Spending time in the Arizona desert isn’t a bad way to warm up from the December cold of Seattle.
That was the ticket for the Woodinville Falcons (10-1), who traveled to Phoenix to play in the 20th annual Nike Tournament of Champions.
From December 19-22, the Lady Falcons played games on four consecutive days. They beat Lynwood (CA) 65-48, Forest Grove 51-40, Eastlake (CA) 59-44 before losing to powerhouse Sacramento 46-34 in the championship game.
Sacramento’s RyAnne Walters was deadly from the perimeter, draining 6 three pointers and drawing admiration from those in attendance.
“It was fun,” Walters said. “After I hit my first shot I felt confident and so I kept shooting.”
Sacramento also employed a suffocating full court press that keyed on Woodinville’s star point guard Regan Schenck.
“That #1, she was a good defender and the motivator for their team,” Walters said. “So we had to shut her down. I attacked her and we were able to get her off her game.”
Woodinville coach Scott Bullock gave his thoughts on the championship game.
“(Sacramento) is really deep and they have athletic girls,” Bullock said. “We ended up with 34 points, which was a season low. There were some shots we left on the table, but everything was pressured and everything was contended. What I’m most pleased about is that our girls didn’t turn the ball over. Only 8 turnovers in the face of that kind pressure, was very solid.”
With a second place finish in the Nike tournament, the Falcons returned to Seattle for an upcoming game against Arlington, before jumping into the KingCo season.
“This is the third time I’ve been on a trip like this, I love it every year,” Falcon center Gabby Whalen said. “As a senior I couldn’t ask for a better trip. We knew [Sacramento] was hard competition. I would have liked to win, but I like the way our team fought and where we’re headed.”
“We’ve gotten close because we’ve spent these last few days and nights together,” Falcon guard Regan Schenck said. “I think that [cohesion] shows on the court which has led us to be successful. We’ve gotten more familiar with each other and how we play, and that helped lead us to the championship game. This game could have become a blowout but it didn’t. We stayed together and kept fighting.”
Coach Bullock was asked what his team will take from the Nike tournament.
“In the last four days we’ve come a long ways,” Bullock said. “The area I’m most pleased about is Madison Lundquist on defense. Especially the past two days. Keeping her feet, keeping her balance, blocking shots. She was very solid.
“Overall, I like this group for sure,” he said.