Storm blows in – Scrimmages played at torrid pace
By Tom Smeeth . Like the stormy weather, the women’s and men’s basketball teams blew into the gymnasium at the Wellness Center with all sorts of colorful and entertaining play against star studded Alumni teams who came loaded for bear to test the Storm. Seeking to complete the scrimmage phase of their seasons hitting a rhythm for the non-league games that start in mid-November, both teams survived with their mettle tested and strengthened after last Saturday’s contests.
Women win slim, 66-64
. Aided by a spirited and effected effort from ten alumnae players from the school's storied past, the women worked to a 6-64 win against a very worthy opponent. After a close-as-you-can-get 28-27 halftime score, the 2009/10 version led the all-star collection who threw every weapon at their disposal at them throughout the night before an enthusiastic and thankful crowd, on hand as much to welcome home old friends, as to investigate Rebecca Valdivia’s heralded new squad.
. But it wasn’t just an old classic ‘show’, there was plenty of ‘tell’ in the game brought by Katie Jo Maris, 17 points, Anisha Noriega, four points, both of the class of 2003, and former coach and Storm star Kadee Peterson (’06) who came on strong with 13 key points, strong play, and leading all rebounders with 11. Chipping in were Elena Flory-Barnes (’07) four points and rebounds, a block and steal, Tyisha Coleman (‘02) four points. Coaches Katherine Kritta (’04) and Megan Fulker (’07) knitted a robust squad from those guest players who were able to respond to the invitations sent out.
. From the record setting team with the 2008 NWAACC fifth place finish notched on their belt, Kayla Bennett turned in a competitive and flashy performance in partnership with Peterson, former class and teammates Katie Kirsch (3), Hiroe Chiba (3) and Kelly Luke (5). Like Peterson’s 11 rebounds and scores, Bennett’s stat-line of 18 points, four rebounds and 2 steals don’t tell the whole story of the game.
. In the end for the Storm, it was a combination of veteran returners and a handful of fresh performances from players new to the Storm women. Start the story with a willful return from leg surgery by a healthy, experienced, team leader Candace Grettenberger (5 points, seven rebounds, six steals), heady leadership from DaVeonna Munson (12 points, five rebounds, a steal and four assists) and strong inside play by center Laura Fuller (15 points, six rebounds) and timely sharp-shooting from F Nicole Buhl (8) was expertly blended with the fresh energy of guard Amanda Mendoza (9) from Foster HS, and key scoring from guards Breanna Carlow and Icola Dotson, who combined for 12 points between them. Venisha Ford (2), Marisol Gonzalez (5), and Jordan Halingstad contributed critical minutes and scoring. Stats contribute to the story of the game’s control won by the Storm – ten players contributed to a 38 rebound total, led by seven each for Grettenberger and Mendoza. Five had steals, with Grettenberger leading the team through the finish with six in the second half. Buhl, Fuller and Ford registered blocks, all germane to the Storm endgame.
. Gonzalez drained a trey to fashion a five point lead with 13:33 to play in the game. Then Carlow dropped in her first of two from long range, 46-39 with 12:41 remaining, bracketing a three from ‘Cola’ Dotson. The youth movement threatened to bury the Storm Alumnae, who called time-out down 56-45 with 7:56 to play. Behind miracle work from Katie Jo Maris, the Alumnae clawed to within 58-53 and five-and-a-half minutes to go in the game. Two steals and two lay-ins by coach-on-the-floor Peterson forced Valdivia to call time-out to rally her girls at 2:07. The final two minutes was a blur of fast-paced chess, with the women exchanging baskets, fouls and steals. Though Bennett stole the inbounds, drawing fouls and sinking all but one of her four free-throws, it was frosh Mendoza who calmed the Storm and sealed the win.
. After deep breaths by all – players and fans alike, the two sides greeted each other to thunderous appreciations from the crowd, then withdrew to an old-fashioned pot luck reception downstairs in preparation for the men’s version of hardwood heartaches.
Alumni downed, 75-68
After an emotional send-off that caught four year assistant coach Eric Ensign by surprise, and warmed the heart of forward Daniel Rugamba, who moves to finish his degree at the University of Arkansas, the Storm was tested in the Alumni game but prevailed under pressure to take a 75-68 victory into their final scrimmage game this Friday the 13th, against Another Level.
. Ensign, who takes up residence as head coach for the Metro League Nathan Hale High School, pulled himself together enough to lead the Alumni out in front of the Storm men, leading 38-27 at the half.
. Powered in the second half, on the inside by center Theo Miller’s 18 points, 10 rebounds and on the other flank by Alex Davis’ 19 points, the Storm swung the game back in their favor then withstood full court pressure holding on for the win. The gym went silent when floor leader Taylor Mulberg went down in a driving heap under tight defense from alum guard Tony Lopez with just under six minutes left in the second half but didn’t jump back up, as is his custom. It’s unknown how long he will be missed, perhaps two weeks. It gave an important opportunity for newcomers Karson Gray, 10 points, and others to test for their place on this year’s squad.
. “I thought the others did quite well under the circumstances,” said coach Kyle Gray of the backup guard play. “We’ll be needing to work on that while Taylor rehabilitates.”
. Coach Gray admitted that they hadn’t worked on breaking the press, and he knew coach Ensign would go to it, “as he always does.” He saluted his sidekick who is leaving after serving with him for four of his six years with the Storm.
. “He put in more hours than I can count – probably making pennies on the hour,” Gray quipped. “He helped build this program from nothing to something very respectable fifth place finish last year. He will rebuild that program,” he said thanking his friend and associate who assumes a challenge in a basketball rich league with the Red Raiders, whose school lies several miles East from North.
. Other contributions to the Storm comeback included shooting and hustle from veteran guard Brian Walker as well as six points and hard play from F Nick Maylsheff, as well as the 7 first-half points thrown in by F Wyatt Taboh-Graziano, who was all but quiet in the second.
After hustle plays by Allen Brooks and Miller drew the Storm close, Walker’s three point field goal gave them their first lead at 43-41 with 14:17 left in the game. Then came the Mulberg injury, and coach Ronald Stiell-Williams sparked the Alumni with a steal that started their charge at 4:25, within seven at 64-57.
. Sam Colter gobbled up two steals converting the lay-up at the opposite end, 66-59 at 2:49. The pressure mounted on the Storm, trading deuces between Stiell-Williams and Walker. With the Storm holding onto a slim four point edge at the two minute mark, Davis took things in his own hand on the low blocks to the right of the basket. Converting a smooth move to the glass, and on the next trip sinking two-for-two from the free throw line. No blown leads, the Storm weathered the Alumni torrents and held on for the win.
Up Next, Lotsa Road
. Next home game for the men is Friday night the 13th, when they host Another Level. After non-league games the following weekend at Walla Walla on Friday the 20th and Columbia Basin (CBC) Saturday evening, the Storm welcome Tacoma for a 7 PM tilt to open December action on Saturday December 12. They then travel across Lake Washington for a three day Bellevue Crossover Tournament December 18-19, followed by a trip to the South end of the state and the Clark Tournament in Vancouver to close out the old year.
. The women take their game on the road through the new year – starting with Saturday’s game at Centralia, then the Yakima CC Tourney November 18 through 20 and the SVC Crossover in Mt. Vernon sandwiching a Tri-Cities contest against CBC.
. For both the men and the women, all action points toward the opening of league play which starts on the road January 2nd in Edmonds up the road, then two games at home Wednesday January 6th (Whatcom) and Saturday the 9th (Everett), where they hope for a warm homecoming of friends and family on the North Seattle campus. All sites are set on the end of the road taking place for both teams in the NWAACC Playoff tournament in the Tri Cities March 6th through 9th in 2010. First things first, though – and that’s the games in front of them, giving them a chance to get competitive through the focused hard work.
November 7th Game summaries –
Storm Alumnae – 27 – 37 – 64
Storm women – 28 – 38 – 66
Alumnae leaders– Katie Jo Maris (’03) 17 points, 5 Rebounds, steal, Anisha Noriega (‘03) 4, 3, 1, Hiroe Chiba (’09) 3, 2, 2, 2 assists, Kadee Peterson (’06) 13, 11, 1, 2 assists, 2 blocks, Elena Flory-Barnes (’07) 4, 4, 1, block, Kelly Luke (‘08) 5, 3, steal, assist, Kayla Bennett (’08) 18, 6, 2 steals, 2 assists, Katie Kirsch (‘08) 3 points, Tyisha Coleman (’02) 4 points. Coached by Katherine Kritta (’04), Megan Fulker (’07).
Storm – Candace Grettenberger 5 points, 7 rebounds, 6 steals, DaVeonna Munson 12, 5, steal, 4 assists, Nicole Buhl 8, 2, block, 2 assists, Laura Fuller 15, 6 rebounds, block, Breanna Carlow 6, steal, Icola Dotson 6, 2, Venisha Ford 2, 3, block, Marisol Gonzalez 5, 3, Jordan Halingstad 2 rebounds, steal, Amanda Mendoza 9, 7, 2 steals, assist, Nadinstsetseg Sumiya. Coach Rebecca Valdivia. Referees – Julie Vanni, Ted Postma, Brian Llindgren. Attendance 35,804 (est).
Storm Alumni – 38 – 30 – 68
Storm men – 27 – 48 – 75
Alumni –Tyler Milam 8, 4 rebounds, Nate Ivie 2 steals, Sam Colter 7, 3 rebounds, steal, 2 assists, Nick Ellis 2, 2 rebounds, Ronald Stiell-Williams 8, 2 steals, 2 assists, David Rengo 6, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, Mike Boyle 2, steal, Daniel Rugamba 6, 5 rebounds, block, Tony Lopez 8, 6, 2 steals, 2 assists, Cody Gray 7, 2 rebounds, 3 steals, Aaron Shlund 9, steal, David Parker. Coach Eric Ensign.
Storm – Karson Gray 10 points, 3 assists, Jeremy Rohrer 3 rebounds, 2 assists, Taylor Mulberg 3 rebounds, assist, 5 steals, Brian Walker 11, 3 rebounds, steal, Alex Davis 19, 3, 2 assist, Nick Maylsheff 6, 4, 2 blocks, steal, Billy Thomas, Theo Miller 18, 10, 2 assists, Aregawe Georgio, Wyatt Taboh-Graziano 7, 2 rebounds,2 blocks, Allen Brooks 3, 4, Greg Davis. Coach Kyle Gray. Referees – Robert Grant, Tim Gaitly, Johns Custa. Attendance 35,804 (est).