Lake Washington’s Elise Hani (middle) drives to the hoop as Juanita’s Callie Craig (left) and Emma Languein defend on Feb. 7. Also pictured is LW’s Ellie Pederson. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

Lake Washington’s Elise Hani (middle) drives to the hoop as Juanita’s Callie Craig (left) and Emma Languein defend on Feb. 7. Also pictured is LW’s Ellie Pederson. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

Lake Washington, Juanita girls playing solid basketball

Kangs and Rebels to meet in 3A KingCo Tournament title game.

Lake Washington and Juanita’s girls basketball players are getting used to seeing each other on the court.

The Kangs defeated their crosstown rival Rebels twice in 2A/3A KingCo matchups this season and they are set to face off again in the 3A KingCo Tournament championship game at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 11 at Sammamish High. Both teams are guaranteed spots to the SeaKing District Tournament, which tips of on Feb. 15.

LAKE WASHINGTON

LW won the KingCo regular-season title with an 11-1 record and stands at 16-4 overall after defeating the Rebels, 63-44, on Feb. 7. Juanita notched an 8-4 KingCo record and holds a 13-7 overall mark.

“Their experience from last year is huge, obviously, we’re bringing back eight out of 10,” said LW head coach Jeff Wilson, adding that his squad has brought a solid effort to the court each time and is unwilling to give up. “We knew were gonna be able to be competitive in every game, but we’ve never been looking ahead.”

Big-time contributions have come from Elise Hani, a sophomore 6-foot-4 forward, who has averaged 15 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks a game; sophomore guard Rosa Smith, who has averaged 11 points, seven assists and seven steals per game; and junior 5-10 guard Sophia Liesse, who has averaged 11 points per game. Senior guard Jen Estes unleashes quickness on offense and defense and freshman 6-foot forward Sydney Hani blocks, scores and rebounds like her older sister.

Wilson praised the Hani sisters for aggressively going after balls: “They give our team a level of physicality that goes down to our guards. They set the tone.”

Speaking of guards, Smith — the team’s “engine,” Wilson said — jumped into a vital leadership role and is lighting up the stat sheet. At press time, she had amassed more than 500 career points, 200 career rebounds and assists and 150 career steals at LW.

Smith said that the Kangs’ chemistry is at an all-time high as they focus on one play and one game at a time.

“I think we’ve just been getting better every day, just coming to practice as a team and it helps so much that we have so many returners,” she said. “We all love basketball, we love to be here, and obviously the crowd is awesome. Every game means everything to us.”

JUANITA

On the Juanita side, first-year head coach Azuma Bearden has got a fast team on his hands. The Rebels are shooting strong and showing tons of composure this season.

“They’ve been really buying into my new system and they’re working hard all year and they’ve been putting themselves in this position to play LW in the KingCo championship,” he said.

Leading the way have been senior guard/wing Chelsea Hill, who has averaged more than 16 points over the last five contests; freshman forward/wing Joy Haltom, who scored 10 points in the Feb. 7 LW contest and has notched four double-doubles; senior forward/post Julia Ryan, a hard worker and rebounder who tallied nine points on Feb. 7; and energetic junior standout guards Kayla Huff and Emma Languein, who are the “motors” of the squad, according to Bearden.

“I love the team. The bond we have is so close and we have a lot of fun when we play against teams and really meld well together,” Hill said. “We’re a fast team and we’re a fast learning team.”

In her third year on varsity, Hill added that she’s learned to get the job done each time out.

“If you do something, do it to your best ability and go hard. Go hard or go home,” she said. “Every time we play a team in KingCo, we get better each time and we learn new lessons about how we can work on our game as a team.”


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Sports

Russell Wilson’s $28 million Lake Washington home (Screenshot from Redfin website)
Russell Wilson’s $28 million Lake Washington home hits the market in Bellevue

The listing of the property comes after the former Seahawks quarterback was traded to Denver.

Ryan Chan (#8) keeps the ball away from Alex Mendoza (#9). Courtesy of Stephanie Ault Justus.
Juanita varsity boys’ soccer loses to Bellevue

The final score of the game was 0-1.

Screenshot of video obtained by Redmond police shows Richard Sherman trying to break into the Redmond home of his in-laws.
Richard Sherman takes plea deal on charges stemming from July 2021 incident

The former Seahawks player will not have to do any additional jail time.

Sydney Kraabel, Lake Washington High School senior, has earned her spot in the U18 Alpine Nationals in Vail, Colorado. Courtesy photo
Lake Washington High School senior to compete in U18 Alpine Nationals in Colorado

Sydney Kraabel, Lake Washington High School senior, has earned her spot in… Continue reading

Design rendering of future Sounders FC facility in Renton. (Courtesy of Seattle Sounders FC)
Seattle Sounders FC announce new HQ at Renton’s Longacres site

Facility is expected to open in 2024, before Seattle potentially hosts FIFA World Cup games in 2026.

tsr
First time in 100 years: LWHS boys, girls basketball teams are regular season champions

The Lady Kangs won the 3A Regular Season Conference for the third consecutive year.

tsr
WIAA launches bias reporting form in response to discriminatory incidents

Inappropriate behavior seen, heard or witnessed at any WIAA member school event can be reported.

t
Juanita rolls over Bellevue

Juanita’s Nico Ruyle drives to the hoop for a score during the… Continue reading

file photo
Health department: COVID outbreaks linked to high school wrestling tournaments

At least 80 cases are tied to the events which included attendees from multiple counties and states.

Juanita’s Ashley Schroeder notches a dig during her squad’s 3-0 volleyball loss to Bellevue on Sept. 20. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Ault Justus
Digging away for Juanita

Juanita’s Ashley Schroeder notches a dig during her squad’s 3-0 volleyball loss… Continue reading