Defense not enough for Tiger girls

Photo by Brent Baker — Tonasket girls basketball coach Mike Larson (left) and athletic director Kevin Terris (right) accept the Okanogan Valley Officials Association Good Sportsmanship Award prior to Thursday's game with Omak. Presenting the award on be

Photo by Brent Baker — Tonasket girls basketball coach Mike Larson (left) and athletic director Kevin Terris (right) accept the Okanogan Valley Officials Association Good Sportsmanship Award prior to Thursday’s game with Omak. Presenting the award on be

TONASKET – Defense may win championships, but not without the rebounding and offense to go with it

Though the score didn’t show it, the Tonasket girls basketball team played a far better overall game against Omak in their second meeting with the Pioneers on Thursday, Feb. 2, than it did a couple of weeks ago. Difficulties with rebounding and scoring proved to be the difference in a 47-30 loss that was was much closer than that through the first three quarters.

The Tigers trailed 23-19 at halftime and tied it at 23 early in the third quarter as Devan Utt opened the half with basket and two free throws. Everything was set up perfectly for a Tonasket surge as Omak’s Shawnee Covington, one of the Pioneers’ top two scoring threats, picked up her fourth foul. Covington stayed on the bench until midway through the fourth quarter, but instead of taking advantage of her absence, the Tigers allowed a 16-6 Pioneer run.

“We had everything we needed,” said Tonasket coach Mike Larson. “We just had so many missed opportunities.

“Defensively, we gave Covington and (Jade) Sargent everything they wanted. We played so hard on defense for 30 seconds, they’d miss a shot, and then we couldn’t get into position for a rebound. It’s just hard to play defense when you keep letting them extend their possessions like that.”

Baelie Meese took advantage of the Tigers’ lack of boxing out to pull down a number of offensive rebounds, sometimes scoring and sometimes kicking the ball out to to keep it in Omak’s hands.

Sargent and Covington, who combined for 36 points in the Pioneers’ 53-45 victory on Jan. 17, managed 17 this time around.

“Alicia Edwards played her heart out against Sargent,” Larson said. “She and Kelly (Cruz) tag-teamed her and really made her work for everything.”

Lindsey Hughes (12 points), and Meese (8) made up much of the difference with their work on the glass.

The Tigers’ offense also broke down after a solid first half.

“In the first half we drove and kicked and got baskets that way,” Larson said. “In the second half we either drove and didn’t kick, other times we just didn’t drive.

“Hats off to Omak, though. They did what they had to to win the game. They needed people to step up and they did.”

Utt paced the Tigers with 13 points.

“I’m just proud that the girls haven’t quit all season,” Larson said. “Playing Cashmere to end the year is like getting a playoff game. It’s a great springboard into summer break and gives them something to shoot for.”

On a much brighter note for the Tigers, they received the Okanogan Valley Officials Association Good Sportsmanship Award for the season.

“We got hardware; only one team in the county will get that,” Larson said. “It shows what great kids we have. The girls have played hard and with class and it shows on the floor with the way we play.”

The Tigers (4-16, 0-10 Caribou Trail League) concluded their season Saturday, Feb. 4, with a 67-24 loss to league champion Cashmere.

Okanogan 59, Tonasket 25

TONASKET – The Tigers fell behind 41-15 at halftime, but played better defensive second half against the state-ranked Bulldogs in a 59-25 loss on Jan. 31.

Devan Utt scored seven points while Megan Beyers had five points and six rebounds and Baylie Tyus had five points for the Tigers.

Kara Staggs scored 22 and Caitlyn Behymer added 10 for Okanogan.

About Brent Baker

Brent is a reporter for the Gazette-Tribune. Prior to working at the G-T, he was the sports editor for Sunrise Publishing from 2000-2005 in Michigan. He subsequently owned and operated Buckland Media, a high school sports website, in Michigan until 2010. He and his wife Kim, who have an adult son, moved to Tonasket in 2010. Brent started work at the G-T in 2011.

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