After five losses in a row by double-digit margins, Mountlake Terrace Hawks Coach Jesica Anissipour was looking for her squad to show a fighting spirit on Thursday when they hit the road to face the Sammamish Totems.
The Hawks, down by as many as 15 points in the second half, turned up the intensity and showed a will to battle back. Unfortunately for Terrace, the comeback came up three points short as the Totems held on for a 63-60 win at Sammamish High School in Bellevue.
Despite the close defeat, Anissipour was pleased with the performance of her squad.
“The only thing I wrote on the (locker room) board was ‘heart,’” Anissipour said. “I usually have a million things written down, and all I wrote was ‘heart.’ Tonight, that’s what they did.”
After Terrace jumped ahead early, the Totems took a lead they would never relinquish at the midway point of the first quarter on a Promise Taylor lay-in. Taylor, the Totem’s senior post player, finished the game with 25 points to lead all scorers.
At 6-foot-5, Taylor was a big presence for Sammamish against the much shorter Hawks. But with the physical work of 5-foot-8 Jorie Lambert and a variety of double teams and defensive schemes, Anissipour felt her squad did the best they could to restrain her.
“They played the right defense and they transitioned the way they were suppose to and I think they did pretty well with her and contained her,” Anissipour said.
Junior co-captain Callie Jenckes added 10 points for Totems in the victory.
The Hawks were led by the 21 points of junior Aynika Nuckles, an effort that wasn’t taken lightly by Anissipour.
“She killed it today,” Anissipour said of Nuckles. “I think her confidence is finally starting to sprout out. I’m very excited to see that.”
“She can do anything,” Anissipour continued of her junior point guard. “She’s a shooter, she’s an inside player, she’s fast as heck; she can do it all. It’s just a matter of her knowing that she can, and it’s starting to show.”
Anissipour was especially critical of the officiating on Thursday, picking up a technical foul in the first half for vocalizing her dissatisfaction in the first half.
“I never blame anything on officiating, but my girls came out hard. They did everything they were told to do; they played with heart, they played with passion,” Anissipour following the game. “We did get robbed on a lot of calls. And ‘a lot of calls’ added up to where if we had just gotten one of them, we might have been neck-and-neck in this game at the end.”
While displeased with the referees, in the end Anissipour chose to focus on her delight with her squad.
“I’m happy,” she concluded. “To go into a long break of four days without seeing the girls, this is the way I wanted to end it. Win or lose – and honestly, I know we could have won that game, but it just wasn’t on our side tonight. But they won in my heart, because they came out the way they were suppose to come out.”
After taking the Christmas weekend off, Terrace will return to practices and competition next week, including two home games on Dec. 29 and 30 during the Mountlake Terrace Holiday Tournament. The Hawks will face Sedro-Woolley on Thursday, Dec. 29, then take on Liberty on Friday, Dec. 30.
Prep Girls Basketball: Mountlake Terrace at Sammamish, Dec. 22
Terrace 9 16 9 24 — 60
Sammamish 16 15 18 14 — 63
Mountlake Terrace individual scoring: Aynika Nuckles 21, Jorie Lambert 12, Jazz Zenk 8, Samra Gebrehiwot 7, Trinity Prout 6, Nohea Morrison 5, unknown 1, Weslynn Blackwell, Kierra Scott, Eliza Sandoval, Reagan Stickney
Sammamish individual scoring: Promise Taylor 25, Callie Jenckes 10, Hannah Nash 9, Katelyn Nagel 7, Grace Patterson 6, MaiteAmaya Storseth 3, Emily Jackson 2, unknown 1, Vivian Chi
Records: Mountlake Terrace 0-2 in 2A/3A Wesco League, 1-7 overall; 0-4 in 2A/3A KingCo League, 1-6 overall
Mountlake Terrace next game: versus Sedro-Woolley, Thursday, Dec. 29, 11:30 a.m. at Mountlake Terrace High School
–By Doug Petrowski