King’s defense shines in tough loss | Girls basketball

Young Knights limit Wildcats to lowest point total of season
By David Pan | Jan 11, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan King’s Peri Welch guards Archbishop Murphy’s Maddie Hill.

King’s didn’t come away with a victory against Archbishop Murphy.

But coach Dan Taylor was able to point to a number of positive outcomes in the Knights’ 51-24 loss to the Wildcats in a Cascade Conference girls basketball game Friday, Jan. 5, at Archbishop Murphy High School.

King’s held Archbishop Murphy to a season-low 51 points and none of the Wildcats scored in double figures.

“I was impressed by our team defense,” Taylor said.

One of the goals going into Friday night’s contest was to try to control reigning MVP Emily Rodabaugh, who ended up with only 3 points. The Archbishop Murphy junior standout’s time was somewhat limited because of foul troubles. Rodabaugh had scored in double figures in six of the last seven contests.

Maddie Hill, Audrey Graham and Olivia Riojas each had 9 points to lead the Wildcats.

“Our goal was, first of all, not to let Rodabaugh have her way the entire game,” Taylor said. “Even though it was an off-game (for Rodabaugh), they still have girls who stepped up.”

Taylor described Archbishop Murphy (5-0 in the league, 10-0 overall) as a phenomenal team with solid depth on the bench.

“They’ve got girls coming off the bench and they don’t miss a beat,” he said. “They have girls who have played with each other for some time.”

The Wildcats returned their entire starting lineup from last year’s 2A state playoff squad.

While the Knights had a strong defensive performance, Taylor admitted King’s offense is still a work in progress.

The Knights turned the ball over too many times against a high-pressure Archbishop Murphy defense.

“We have to do a better job of taking care of the ball,” Taylor said.

The Knights’ inexperience contributes to the problem. King’s have no returning seniors, two juniors and five freshmen.

“We try to make passes that a lot of young players are able to make at the lower levels,” Taylor said. “At the varsity level, it’s a big jump. Some of the passes you can get away with at the junior high or club basketball level. The defensive intensity may not be the same for high school. We have to be able to take care of the basketball and execute.”

Freshman Peri Welch led the Knights (4-1, 7-4) with 8 points. In the previous 11 games, the scoring load generally has been shouldered by junior Dominique Kirton and freshmen Claire Gallaher and Mia Flor, according to Taylor.

A bright spot for King’s has been its ability to rebound the ball. The Knights and the Wildcats were about even in boards, though Archbishop Murphy had a distinct height advantage with four players 5-feet-11 or taller. Part of the reason why the two teams were close in rebounds, however, was that the Wildcats shot 45 percent from the field. When teams score and make a lot of shots, they don’t have many offensive rebounds, Taylor noted.

“I would say in the 11 games, we’ve outrebounded nine of our opponents,” Taylor said.

Taylor likes the direction the Knights are headed. King’s started off the New Year with a 52-24 victory over South Whidbey on Tuesday, Jan. 2. Gallagher scored 23 points and Flor had 13. The Knights then beat Cascade Christian 43-22 with Gallagher leading the way with 14 points on Saturday, Jan. 6, in the non-conference game.

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