Like 10 peas in a pod.
That’s how Lake Washington junior guard Ellie Pederson describes the Kangs girls basketball squad. The players all get along well, have solid chemistry and they all got a hand on the 3A KingCo Tournament championship trophy after defeating Juanita, 63-31, on Feb. 11 at Sammamish High.
Pederson tallied 11 points, including three 3-pointers in the first half as the Kangs bolted out to a 28-16 halftime lead. Sophomore guard Rosa Smith led all scorers with 18 points and senior guard Jen Estes added eight, including a high-flying breakaway layin to drain the first points of the second half.
“I think we’re really athletic and we just play as a team. There’s no ‘I’ in our team, there’s not one specific player. We just play as a full unit,” Pederson said. “We never doubt each other, we never get down on each other, we always encourage and we always just try to get as energetic as we can.”
LW freshman 6-foot forward Sydney Hani, who grabbed copious rebounds and had several blocks against Juanita, achieved one of her goals of making varsity as a ninth-grader.
“It’s really important to me, I’m really glad I could help out the team,” Hani said of playing varsity ball. “It’s my favorite when we’re all going off shot after shot, possession after possession. Just getting all hyped up and cheering for each other just helps us move along.”
Her sophomore sister Elise, a forward who stands 6-4, was a blocking and rebounding machine all evening as well.
Both LW (17-4 at press time) and Juanita (15-8 at press time) are playing in the SeaKing District Tournament, which will run through Feb. 22.
Sydney said the Kangs need to stay together as a team and keep cheering and holding their heads high to succeed in the next phase of their season.
For Juanita, junior guard/wing Emma Languein notched 12 points and senior guard/wing Chelsea Hill added nine points.
Languein said that new coach Azuma Bearden has energized the team this season and they’ve brought a motto of “Hard Work” onto the court to push them along the way. It was a tough loss against LW, she said, adding that the Rebels will find their way back and do well at districts.
“I think we just kind of need to find ourselves again and work through our offense some more, kind of get back into that. We kind of struggled with that tonight,” Languein said. “We’re all super good friends, we all just get along really well. Even through these tough losses, we’ll always be together and strong.”
With hair flying, Languein brought the ball up court and was often seen hitting the floor while grabbing for the ball.
“I just put my life out there, so, whatever for my team,” she said.
* Juanita defeated Bellevue, 57-38, to notch the second seed to district, and then beat Bainbridge, 57-44, to advance in districts. All-KingCo first-team selection Hill scored 25 points against Bellevue.
Kangs Sophia Liesse, Smith and Elise Hani are all-league first-teamers and Hani is the defensive player of the year.