Mount Baker’s girls’ basketball team entered its Friday, Jan. 16, contest against Burlington-Edison having lost three of the last four games. Needing to do something to provide a spark, Mountaineers coach Brenda Ellis made some changes.
The Mountaineers switched to a man-to-man defense and changed their offensive philosophy to get to the rim more in an attempt to end their slump.
The only problem was they were going up against one of the toughest teams in the league in Burlington-Edison.
The result? A 60-38 Baker loss in front of its home crowd.
“Burlington’s a real tough team,” Ellis said. “We’re trying to get ourselves back on a roll and that’s a tough team to try to do that against.”
Mount Baker (8-5, 2-3 NWC) has now lost three straight and four of their last five and Ellis is trying to right the ship in whatever way she can. One thing she does know is that her team is strong.
“This is a good team. I don’t really feel like I have to remind them to never give up. They’re pretty tough and we’ll see what they’re made out of,” Ellis said. “We’re struggling a little bit and we always tell them that struggle reveals your character and we’ll see what their character is like.”
On Friday, the Mountaineers not only had to deal with testing a new offense and defense but having two players that never handled the ball before dribble the ball up the court.
Because of the Tigers’ (11-2, 4-1 NWC) speed and experience at guard in Edie Breckenridge, who scored 11 on the night, and Tyra Lopez, who scored a game-high 21, Emily Brandland and Emily Yost had to take the ball up the floor.
“That was our best chance was to bring the ball up using our posts,” Ellis said. “Brandland and Yost are completely capable of doing that.”
Brandland described Breckenridge as the “fastest person I’ve ever met.”
“She’s tough to play against,” Brandland said. “It’s tough to dribble up the court against them but I thought we handled their press pretty good. We didn’t dribble much, we tried to pass the ball up.”
The Mountaineers were still forced into 20 turnovers as the Tigers’ press was relentless. Burlington-Edison held the Mountaineers to just five made shots in the first half, as Mount Baker struggled to find its groove in the reshaped offense.
The new offense, however, proved to be the way to get Brandland out of her slump. Brandland scored just 11 combined points between her last two games, but on Friday, she scored 18 points, including four 3-pointers.
“I was in a rhythm tonight,” Brandland said. “My team did a really good job of getting me the ball. I was going up for boards and it was working for me.”
Brandland also had a team-high 10 rebounds.
Despite the blowout, there are plenty of positive takeaways from Friday’s contest, Ellis said.
One of which is holding Breckenridge to just 11 points.
“Edie got by us a few times but we did a pretty good job of holding her in front of us,” Ellis said. “We lost some people here and there but it wasn’t like Burlington was getting wide open looks on us. They were contested for a lot of them.”
Mount Baker plays Lynden on Tuesday, Jan. 20, on the road.
The Mountaineers are still vying for one of the Class 1A’s four playoff spots and the back half of the Northwest Conference season will show what Baker is made of.
“I just always tell them to play each possession and never give up. You never know whats going to happen,” Ellis said. “The thing is you can learn from every situation. If you get in the habit of quitting it doesn’t matter if it’s a big difference or a close game, you have to learn to play with the same intensity on every possession no matter what the score clock says.”
Burlington-Edison 60, Mount Baker 38
Burlington-Edison: Brandy Smith 0, Tyra Lopez 21, Carly Watson 2, Edie Breckenridge 11, Allyson Ray 4, Katie Rodriguez 3, Olivia Capron 14, Delaney Watson 0, Rylee Gundersen 4, Emily Agen 1, Sam Alumbres 0. Totals: 24-58 6-10 60.
Mount Baker: Emily Brandland 18, Brittany Call 0, Summer Millman 0, Kylee Engholm 5, Alyssa Linderman 0, McKenzie Yost 2, Emily Yost 11, Emmy Cline 3, Samantha Jacoby 0. Totals: 13-47 6-6 38.
3-point field goals — Burlington-Edison: 5 (Lopez 3); Mount Baker: 5 (Brandland 4). Rebounds — Burlington-Edison: 36 (Capron 11); Mount Baker: 26 (Brandland 10). Assists — Burlington-Edison: 10 (Capron 4); Mount Baker: 8 (Brandland 3). Fouls — Burlington-Edison: 13; Mount Baker: 7. Turnovers — Burlington-Edison: 11; Mount Baker: 20.