As the Todd Beamer girls wrapped up another home basketball victory, the Titans quietly gathered to congratulate each other on remaining undefeated in SPSL South play.
Only this win came comfortably against a well-regarded, state-ranked team and league contender: the previously unbeaten Puyallup Vikings.
All three starting Titans freshmen scored at least 10 points and first-team all-league junior Megan Huff added 12 in a 61-47 win that should let the rest of the SPSL know the future is now for Beamer.
Freshman post Nia Alexander, daughter of coach Corey Alexander, led Beamer (10-1 overall, 7-0 league) with a game-high 17 points. Her poise and court vision revealed a temperament often associated with experienced seniors.
In one of many highlights, Alexander capped a 10-point first quarter with a steal and transition lay-in surrounded by Puyallup defenders.
Puyallup tried to contain Alexander but then had to deal with freshman point guard Quinessa Caylao-Do, whose frequent trips to the foul line helped her 14- point total.
“We have a lot of threats on our team,” Coach Alexander said. “We kept them off-guard. Being so young, (our three freshmen) stepped up and played a big game.”
The Vikings (10-1, 6-1) kept the game close through three quarters despite some momentum-killing fouls.
In the second half, another Titans freshman guard, Bria Rice (10 points), scored on two consecutive steals and lay-ins to push Beamer’s lead to 12.
Puyallup’s Addison Picha, a tall sophomore guard, single-handedly closed that deficit with nine consecutive points capped off by an uncontested 3-pointer that left Vikings coach Cherokee Ainslie laughingly threatening to have benched the traditional inside player if she had missed.
The rest of the half was no laughing matter for Puyallup.
“We had some great defense,” Ainslie said. “We’re young, not as young as Beamer. It was a good test for us. We just have to keep moving forward. We’ll be successful if we all play together.”
Beamer’s freshmen pair of Alexander and Caylao-Do are adjusting to varsity quickly. After the game, both reflected on their team’s league victory and saw room for individual improvement in ballhandling.
“At times, we had spacing and at times we (were cut off),” Caylao-Do said. “But overall, we did good.”
“The transition wasn’t hard,” Alexander said. “Individually, I just want to play hard, smart and not get in foul trouble.”
“I’m comfortable,” Caylao-Do added.
The rest of the SPSL South might not be for the next four seasons.