The message was clear from Annie Wright girls basketball coach Chris Spivey after the Gators’ loss Tuesday night — learn from this.
In a battle for the top spot in the Class 1A Nisqually League, Annie Wright’s youth couldn’t match veteran-heavy Bellevue Christian, dropping a 71-52 loss in Tacoma after the visiting Vikings took control in the second half.
“I think starting from the first half we brought a lot of energy, and in the second half they came out with down low shots,” said freshman Jazzy Stone who poured in 20 points for the Gators. “We just didn’t get back into our rhythm, which I definitely think we could have done. It just didn’t happen.”
Despite a quick start — and two more scorers who finished in double figures in freshmen Julianna Walker (20 points) and Bella Spencer (11) — Annie Wright (11-2) could keep up after the break, as Bellevue Christian (13-0) opened a 26-7 run during the second and third quarters to take a decisive lead.
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“It’s one game. One game is not going to define our season,” Spivey said. “Bellevue Christian — they’re undefeated for a reason. They’re a good team. ... I think with our team could do a better job staying focused and fighting to the end.”
With its young talent, Annie Wright has matched up well with other 1A Nisqually opponents this season, topping Charles Wright, Cascade Christian and Vashon Island each by at least 29 points.
Despite carrying eight players on their roster who are either freshman or sophomores, the Gators also have signature wins over several schools in bigger classifications, including a 14-point win over Bethel — which leads the 3A Pierce County League — in December.
Annie Wright’s only other loss so far this season was to Wilson at the Rams’ holiday tournament, which the Rams won. Walker — who was averaging a stunning 36.1 points per game entering the week — was still named the tournament MVP after scoring 103 points in three games.
Stone, who was averaging 21.1 points per game entering the week, has also stood out this season.
“All of us together, we got to get to a point where we just mesh together to really get ourselves where we want to be,” Spencer said.
Clearly, one loss, and one tough half Tuesday night, does not define the season for Annie Wright.
“If we can just keep moving, keep communicating with each other, set screens away (from the ball), anything works as long as we’re moving the ball,” Stone said. “I think none of our shots were bad shots. I think as long as we’re open, and as long as we’re taking those shots, we have a definite chance of winning or keeping it pretty close.”
The Vikings dug deep behind their veterans and size with seniors Molly VandenBrink (12 points, five steals, five assists, five rebounds) and Molly Olson (13 points, seven rebounds) leading the charge. And 6-foot-3 sophomore forward Samantha Skaggs (20 points, eight rebounds) showed an ability to take over the game.
But, Spivey emphasized in the locker room after the loss that there are still plenty of games left on the schedule for the Gators to find their identity.
“We want to be up there, but we got to play better,” Spencer said.
BC – Molly VandenBrink 12, Rylee Reese 16, Sophia Bold 10, Molly Olson 13, Samantha Skaggs 20.
AW – Amhina Webb 1, Julianna Walker 20, Jazzy Stone 20, Bella Spencer 11.