The Nooksack Valley girls’ basketball team started off the Class 1A District 1 Tournament on an 8-0 run and never relinquished its lead in a 67-39 win against Sultan on Monday, Feb. 9, at Nooksack Valley High School.
Right from tip-off the Pioneers applied the pressure to the Turks. A full-court press from Nooksack Valley seemed to throw Sultan off from the start. The fast-paced play of the Pioneer offense and the defensive pressure led to a quick timeout from Sultan to stall the fast start.
“We came out, played hard and wanted to set the tone defensively,” Nooksack Valley coach Shane Wichers said. “If we could, we wanted to jump on them. We played really good and really aggressive.”
The 3-2 zone defense the Turks came out in to start didn’t seem to surprise the Pioneers’ offense in its quick start. Sultan switched to a man defense following an early timeout and started to find its rhythm after matching Nooksack Valley the remainder of the quarter, but found itself down 17-9 after the opening quarter.
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Both teams came out in their man defense to start the second quarter and the Turks were able to cut the Pioneer lead down to six points with a 15-9 score. But that was as close as they were going to get in the game.
Nooksack Valley’s junior post Brianna Turner found her way through the defense in the second quarter. The ball movement around the zone from the Pioneer offense seemed to open up lanes for Turner to get the ball inside and score near the basket. She shot 5 for 5 from the field and scored 11 of the team’s 17 points in the quarter.
“My teammates were moving the ball back and forth a lot. It helped with our communication and I just ended up being in the right spot at the right time. They saw that,” Turner said.
Following a timeout late in the second quarter Sultan came back out in a 2-3 zone defense. The Pioneers started looking like they figured out how to navigate the zone and ended the half outscoring the Turks 5-2, heading into the locker room with a 34-23 lead.
“We got passive (against the zone). Once we started attacking we started getting shots and opened things back up,” Wichers said.
At the start of the third quarter the Turks stuck with their zone defense but the ball movement from Nooksack Valley proved to be too much and the Pioneers opened the quarter on a 5-0 run to go up 39-24. Sultan was able to bounce back with three straight baskets of its own to force a Nooksack Valley timeout with the score at 39-30.
The Pioneers came out of the timeout with a different look defensively, applying full-court pressure and switching to a 2-3 zone defense once the Sultan offense crossed half court. The defensive adjustment looked to be what the Pioneers needed as they went on an 11-0 run, led by Mariah Perry’s 10 points in the quarter.
“We just needed to not get beat off the dribble defensively. We closed out pretty quick and I thought we did better on defense (in the second half),” Wichers said. “Offensively we got a lot of second opportunities.”
Nooksack Valley out-rebounded Sultan 26-16 throughout the game, led by Katrina Gimmaka’s seven rebounds. Rebounds gave Nooksack Valley the second chances on offense it needed to build a lead and ultimately a victory.
“Katrina had an amazing night on the rebounds and that really got us going. It gave us that fire,” Turner said.
Turner finished the game with 17 points and five rebounds. Perry had 17 points and seven assists, and Arlissa Oettel had 10 points and six rebounds in the game.
Nooksack Valley will now travel south to play against King’s on Wednesday, Feb. 11, at King’s High School at a time to be determined.
“We need to tighten up our defense a bit. Keep working on our offense and treat every game like it’s our last,” Turner said.
Nooksack Valley 67, Sultan 39
Sultan: Emilee Buzzell 2, Khayla MacKenzie 6, Chrishelle Sentman 6, Bailey Bierbauer 1, Hanna Bierbauer 5, Payton McGuire 11, Daphne Pohaku 8. Totals: 16-37 10-16 39
Nooksack Valley: Arlissa Oettel 10, Rachel Sande 6, Mariah Perry 17, Emilia Gimmaka 4, Katrina Gimmaka 5, Brianna Turner 17, Lacey Johnson 8. Totals: 27-50 11-18 67
3-point field goals: Sultan – 1 (H. Bierbauer 1); Nooksack Valley – 2 (Perry 2). Rebounds: Sultan – 16 (Sentman, Ellis 2); Nooksack Valley – 26 (K. Gimmaka 7). Assists: Sultan – 9 (McGuire 4); Nooksack Valley – 19 (Perry 7). Fouls: Sultan – 10; Nooksack Valley – 15. Turnovers: Sultan – 10; Nooksack Valley – 13.