LYNDEN - Sehome coach Kim Kirk couldn't help but be inspired by her team's effort despite a lopsided loss to the state's top-rated Class 2A girls' basketball squad.
"I think it's going to help some of our younger kids," Kirk said of the Mariners' 50-29 loss to White River (8-1) in the opening round of the Lynden Christmas Classic on Thursday, Dec. 27, at Lynden Christian.
"I never felt our kids let up," said Kirk, who said she is convinced her Mariners (6-4) can compete well in the scramble for the Northwest Conference's top seed in the Class 2A Northwest District Tournament.
"I would much rather play a team like this," Kirk said. "You learn a lot more from the lumps you take."
As for Western Washington University signee Rachel Albert, whose future college coaches were on hand to watch her, Kirk said it all when she said, "Rachel never stops playing hard."
Sehome trailed 40-17 after three quarters and had made only four baskets on the way to 9 for 34 shooting miseries for the night. But that didn't prevent Albert from working as hard or harder than anyone on the court.
Albert scored nine of her 11 points in the fourth quarter and grabbed eight of her 10 rebounds in the second half.
At the outset of the fourth quarter, had there been no scoreboard a stranger would have been impressed with Albert's all-out effort. She made a steal for a layup, then scrambled for the ball and made a fine assist to Meagan McIntyre. Seconds later, Albert scored on a drive as though the game were on the line.
White River didn't shoot up to its standards (19 for 58), but 5-foot-10 senior forward Kennedy Hobert and sophomore guard Amanda Lance combined for 23 points. Hobart, the daughter of former University of Washington quarterback Billy Joe Hobert, grabbed 10 rebounds.
White River - which has lost only to top-rated Class 4A power Mount Rainier - saw its shooting problems caused in no small part by Sehome's defensive hustle. The Hornets, though, scrapped and fought just as hard and forced the Mariners to make many of their 24 turnovers.
Kirk said MacKenzie Caldwell and Danielle Strasser, both 5-11 junior posts, especially benefited from playing such a strong front line.
"And our starting seniors, Rachel, Meagan McIntyre and Hallie Messenger, they're always going to give their best."
WHITE RIVER 50, SEHOME 29
White River 12 16 12 10 - 50
Sehome 6 9 2 12 - 29
White River: Amanda Lance 13, Kennedy Hobert 10, Kristin Sturdivan 11, Maci Goethels 4, Sutton Mills 6, Darian Gore 6, Ashlea Mills 0, Taylor Hillius 0, Katie Durrant 0, Kathryn Timmerman 0, Bailey Mills 0, Mollie Rasmussen 0. Totals 19-58 6-8 50.
Sehome: Rachel Albert 11, Meagan McIntyre 3, Maddy Bryan 4, MacKenzie Caldwell 4, Hallie Messenger 5, Alia Jones 1, Danielle Strasser 1, Sarah Swan 0, Megan Bayless 0, Chanelle Eddy 0. Totals 9-34 9-20 29.
3-pointers: White River 6 (Lance 3), Sehome 2 (Bryan, Messenger). Rebounds: White River 35 (Hobert 12), Sehome 31 (Albert 10). Assists: White River 13 (S. Mills 4), Sehome 5 (Messenger 2). Fouls: White River 17, Sehome 9. Turnovers: White River 11, Sehome 24.