Hornets struggle against reigning state champion

Staff writerDecember 22, 2013 

The gap, as Chris Gibson can attest, is decidedly wide.

Two consensus top-five Class 2A girls basketball programs got together Saturday for a possible state-tournament preview game at the ShoWare Center in Kent.

And it doesn’t appear to matter in which arena the defending state champion Mark Morris Monarchs play — the court is theirs to run on and rule.

Blink an eye, and that is how quickly it takes Mark Morris to score. The Monarchs of Longview overwhelmed White River, 75-53, at the ShoWare Shootout.

Mark Morris’ Karley Eaton led all scorers with 21 points. Ashley Coons added 17 points, and Kourtney Eaton had 16 points and 11 assists.

Four White River players scored in double figures, led by Amanda Lance’s 12 points.

Gibson, the longtime White River coach, knew the Monarchs were good. Playing them only confirms it.

“Best team in the state,” Gibson said. “Defending state champions, and they have so many weapons.”

So now it’s up to Gibson and the Hornets (4-1) to devise a way to contain these Monarchs if the two schools happen to meet not only in the postseason in March, but also next season because both are loaded with underclassman.

The Monarchs (7-0) play with an almost Harlem Globetrotters-like style, throwing flashy passes around the horn, firing did-you-just-shoot-that 3-pointers from way beyond the arc and making no-look passed to waiting teammates coming off cuts — all fast, but all under control.

The Eatons — juniors and twin sisters — are the catalysts, and the reasons Mark Morris coach Steve Rooklidge allows his team to play with so much freedom.

“There is that fine line how much to control and how much to let them go,” Rooklidge said. “Usually letting them go works out pretty well.”

A tight game was broken open midway through the second quarter. It didn’t help that Lance, the Hornets’ point guard, missed extended minutes because of an open cut that would not stop bleeding.

With Lance on the sideline, Mark Morris went on a decisive 11-0 run — all off White River turnovers — in a span of 1:05 to build a 36-17 lead with 2:47 remaining in the first half.

“We need to be calm with the basketball,” Gibson said. “There aren’t a lot of teams that can force us into that kind of stuff. With their kind of speed and talent, that kind of pressure bothers us.”

Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 todd.milles@ thenewstribune.com

The News Tribune is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service