‘We just kept pushing ourselves harder and harder’

Juanita girls finish season at state regionals.

Juanita’s girls basketball team fell one win short of advancing to the 3A state Hardwood Classic this week at the Tacoma Dome.

The Rebels finished their season with an 85-57 season-ending loss to Seattle Prep on Friday in the 3A state regionals at Sammamish High. Chelsea Hill scored 23 points, including three 3-pointers; Emma Languein had nine points; and Joy Haltom tallied eight points. Kayla Huff took home a sportsmanship medallion.

Juanita hung tight and trailed 14-11 after the first quarter, which featured nine Hill points and a Julia Ryan basket. Seattle Prep led 35-24 at halftime.

Senior post Callie Craig said that grit carried the team far this season.

“At the beginning of the season, that’s what we focused on. No matter what, keep going, keep working our hardest and never give up,” she said. “We always wanna win even if we know that we’re behind. We can have our mental wins, knowing that we finished the game strong. We just kept pushing ourselves harder and harder.”

Juanita finished its season with a 16-11 record and notched big wins against Bellevue (60-40), Bainbridge (57-44) and Franklin (48-47) in the postseason.

Craig — who was joined on the squad by fellow seniors Hill, Ryan and Sasha Mitchell — said that she enjoyed the friendships and family atmosphere during her time with the Rebels.

Other highlights for Craig have been “seeing each other evolve into the athletes that we are now and just that commitment that we have to each other and to the sport.”

Junior Huff said that it was a rough game against Seattle Prep, but she loved how the team fought until the end. The girls put everything they had into that game and every contest this season.

“Knowing that this could have been our last game, I think it all made us really want to drive and push ourselves the furthest,” Huff said.

Huff is pumped about where the team can go from here. It’s been a growing and learning process with head coach Azuma Bearden leading the team far into the postseason, she said.

“It’s just gonna be some stepping stones, and I think next year we’ll have it all together and we’ll kind of know the process,” she said. “Fresh bodies, fresh everything. We’ll get our work in over the summer and fall and everything, and I think we’ll be good to go.”