Finding the hustle: Cedarcrest girls team steps it up to get needed Hazen win

The Red Wolves girls needed a win, and they got one, delivering with strong defensive play and a rain of three-point buckets by senior Megan Ditore.

The Red Wolves girls needed a win, and they got one, delivering with strong defensive play and a rain of three-point buckets by senior Megan Ditore.

Cedarcrest hosted Hazen on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 20. The girls won 57-23, to get their second win of the season.

Ditore led the Red Wolves with 21 points, all three-pointers. Freshman point guard Haley Hill and the two Townley sisters, senior Luann and freshman Elaine, each had eight points.

“We did everything better tonight,” head coach Brad Knowles said. The Red Wolves handled Hazen’s zone and girl-to-girl defense well.

“We had a special meeting before the game,” the coach said. In the past two outings, Cedarcrest had fallen by one to Cedar Park Christian, 39-40, on Dec. 16, and 40-51 to Lakewood, on Dec. 19.

“We knew we didn’t bring our A game,” Knowles said. “We talked about how we had to step up defense first, rebounding.”

Against Hazen, Knowles was happy with defense and hustle. But he wants to see the girls dominate the rebounds and cut down on turnovers.

The coach got to put in his entire complement, with younger players getting vital varsity experience for all of the fourth quarter.

“Every game is an improvement,” said Hill, the starting freshman point guard, who could be seen pushing down the right for the entire game. She said the team overcame early struggles with passing and offense. Hill said she can get nervous, knowing that she faces older competition on the court. But once she starts playing, she overcomes that feeling and does what she needs to do.

Cedarcrest has a young team. Knowles’ starting point guards are freshmen. Van Ess, Cedarcrest’s prime rebounder, and another sophomore, Kennedy Howell, alternate at post. The bench is mostly freshmen and sophomores.

Ditore, who made 49 three-pointers as a junior last season, is on track to break that record. While she’s not as tall as some players, she makes up for that with energy and awareness, on both offense and defense.

“She’s the smartest basketball player I’ve ever coached,” said Knowles. “She knows where to be on the court; she gets steals that way, rebounds.”

“Russel Wilson’s a short quarterback, he sees over the tall people,” said Ditore, referencing the Seahawks. “You’ve just gotta see it.”

“Today we decided to show up and play,” Ditore said. “We decided to go for those loose balls… to get the offensive and defensive boards.”

She praised the Townley sisters for great drives and hard play, and Hill for her game.

“I want these girls to win,” Ditore said. “I’m ready. We can’t stop.”

Senior Luann Townley has been doing the vocal pushing.

“I talk a lot. I’m supposed to, as a senior,” she said. Young teammates are making a lot of effort. “It’s interesting to play with them,” she said.

“They bring a lot of energy, which is fun. By the time they’re seniors, they’re going to be amazing.” The team that she wants to beat is Cedar Park, who beat the Red Wolves by just one point.

“We shouldn’t have let them get that close,” Townley said. Cedarcrest gets that rematch Jan. 23.

Over Christmas, Cedarcrest traveled to a tournament in Napavine for team bonding and continued growth against opposition including 1A Zillah, a perennial powerhouse. Cedarcrest is now 2-5. Their next game is hosting Sultan, 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6.

Cedarcrest senior Megan Ditore looses a long shot against the Highlanders Dec. 20.

Mieke Van Ess controls the ball on offense.