Cedarcrest girls headed in the right direction

DUVALL — The Cedarcrest girls basketball team is well on its way

to fulfilling coach Mark Hillestad's goal of qualifying for the KingCo 3A

tournament for the first time in school history.

Last season the girl Red Wolves posted a 1-12 record.

However, Hillestad is confident that an influx of freshmen talent and his core group

of returning starters are enough to push his team to the next level.

The season started off well with a convincing victory over

Ingraham. Last week the Wolves dropped their league opener in a one-point loss

to Interlake, 49-48.

"We should be 2-0," said Hillestad with a sigh. "They finished the

game with five seniors on the floor. We only had one."

The Wolves played the entire game without point guard Heather

Sherfey. The four-year starter had an upset stomach and couldn't make it out

of the locker room to answer the buzzer.

This year's squad has the deepest pool of talent in Hillestad's four

years as head coach. Cedarcrest will be led this season by the backcourt

combo of junior Sarah Gustat and 5-7 senior Sherfey. The senior point guard

has been a starter all four year for Hillestad.

Five-foot, five-inch guard junior Libbye Haddon will be counted on

to add depth at the guard position.

In the front court, 6-0 senior Erin Townsend will get the majority

of minutes at the post. She will be flanked by forwards Lindsay Peterson

(5-8) and Melanie Kleuberg, a 5-9 junior. Both Townsend and Gustat are

starting for the third year in a row.

New blood for the Red Wolves will be provided by a pair of juniors —

5-10 center Amber Sutter and 5-7 forward Candice Sheperd. Hillestad

has high hopes for 5-7 freshman guard Anjuli Brady. Sophomore Rachel

Salz will share time at center.

"This is the best starting five I've had in my four years at

Cedarcrest," said Hillestad. "This team is

much more athletic so I've been able to add a few new wrinkles to our game."

Cedarcrest has the smallest student body among its KingCo rivals,

so Hillestad hopes that his patience is rewarded this season with a

winning season and a trip to the league tournament. Pre-season polls had the

Wolves remaining among the league's cellar-dwellers.

Hillestad is aware that KingCo foe Bellevue has been rated among the

top four teams in the state. He predicted a four-way battle among the balance

of the Valley Division for the final spot in the playoffs. His goal is as many

as six wins in the conference.

Last year's team shot only 19 percent from the field, and Hillestad

said he will need to see more balls fall for the Red Wolves if they hope to

reach the playoffs.

Peterson led all scorers in the league opener against Interlake,

scoring 14 points to top both teams. The Wolves trailed by only a single

basket at halftime, but took control in the second half by outscoring the Saints

to take a three-point advantage going into the final eight minutes of

action. But Interlake outscored the Cedarcrest girls by four points in the fourth

quarter to grab the narrow victory.

Cedarcrest played at Skyline on Tuesday after the Record went to

press and is scheduled to take on Sammamish Friday night in

Bellevue. The Wolves will play only one more non-league game before leaving for

a four-day road trip to Southern California between Christmas and

New Year.

"After all these years of getting beat by 40 points, this team

deserves a reward," said Hillestad. "We

will (hopefully) be playing in the warmth and sunshine of Costa Mesa down

in Orange County."

Cedarcrest will resume KingCo play in the year 2000 on Jan. 5 in

a home contest against Liberty. The Wolves will then travel to

Snoqualmie to play cross-Valley rival Mount Si on Jan. 7. The Wildcat girls will

return the favor when they pay a visit to the hilltop campus in Duvall on the

Feb. 2.

If all goes according to plan, the Red Wolves will open KingCo

tournament play on Feb. 8. A new league champion will be crowned on Feb.

12. The state tournament will be played the first week of March at the

Mercer and Key arenas in Seattle.

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