As witnessed numerous times this season, the girls’ basketball team played with heart, coming from behind, only to fall short of securing the victory at the end. Friday’s scenario slightly varied with the #22 Kodiaks taking a 20-10 point lead into the locker room at half-time after a solid first half of defense and shooting. The #11 Heritage Christian Eagles made a run to start the second half, pulling within 3 points before taking the lead in the final 5 minutes of the game. Still, the girls in blue had a chance at the buzzer for a win before leaving the court with a heartbreaking 37-39 loss in the first Regional matchup.
The Eagles featured a 6’2″ center, Emma Johnson (14 ppg/12 rpg) who dominated the paint and forced the Kodiaks to attack from the outside. CSS guards answered with a combined 25 points, with 5 for 10 from behind the arc. Lauren M. ’20 provided a spark off the bench with 9 points, while juniors Kate G. (8) and Sarina M. (6) were both 2/2 for 3-point shots. Freshman Mia C. had a timely basket and quarterbacked the offense for the Kodiaks. Whitney R. ’21 finished with 12 points and 8 rebounds to lead CSS. Sophomores Bailey R. and Alair F. were held scoreless, yet each yielded 4 rebounds; most impressively their defensive efforts held Johnson below her average with 12 points.
“This game was ours to take,” stated Coach Vaughan. “We earned it with our defensive efforts and patience on offense. But at this point in the season mistakes must be minimized, and we had our share of defensive breakdowns in the second half, just enough to shift the momentum.”
Vaughan added, “I’m so proud of our girls, and if there is a silver lining to this experience, it provided an opportunity for them to realize and finally believe that they are capable of playing with the best programs in the state. We’re young and now more experienced — as soon as the game ended, we shifted our focus to next season and what it’s going to take to make even a deeper run next year.”
The Kodiaks lose seniors Grace H. and Molly B. next year, along with Lauren M. whose family is moving. Still, the future looks bright for Kodiak basketball with returning players and upcoming 9th graders to the program. “There is nothing more that I want than for these girls to reach their potential and see how far it takes them in the tournament. When they decide to want it more than me or my coaching staff, and they believe that they can do it, then it will happen, making history for our program.”