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Lady Falcons poised for another deep run

  • Written by Don Mann
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Junior Cassidy Berday and senior Alexis McLeod compete in a drill at practice. Courtesy photo.
The Woodinville girls basketball team, coming off a 21-7 season and a fifth-place finish at state, is ready to get after it again.

In fact, the Lady Falcons are ranked fifth in a Class 4A preseason poll, having established a reputation as a basketball heavyweight after back-to-back 20-win seasons.

“We have four of five starters back and Amanda Skalabrin who saw a lot of playing time down the stretch is also back,” fifth-year coach Scott Bullock said. “Obviously we’re fortunate to have someone as athletic as Ali Forde, who we expect to have a tremendous senior year.”

Forde, all-state as a junior, recently signed an early commitment to University of Idaho to play basketball and volleyball. The six-foot-one power forward is a terror on the boards and in the paint, but the Lady Falcons are no one trick pony.

The three other returning starters are seniors Deidre Miller and Alexis McLeod — co-captains with Forde —  and junior Kim Frost.

“Diedre has had some health issues — she’s coming off a stress fracture in her foot and tweaked her quad in practice yesterday — but there’re not too many girls who can shoot the ball like her,” Bullock said.

“She has a really quick release and a smooth stroke — when she gets it going she can light it up.”

Bullock said McLeod and Frost will share point guard duties.

“Both are talented veteran players with different sets of skills. Kim’s a little quicker but Alexis is probably a better ball handler.”

Bullock continues to be impressed with the six-foot-one Skalabrin, who came on strong as a sophomore and played big minutes in the state tournament.

“We’re hoping she turns into a consistent rebounder,” he said. “She’s really long, blocks a lot of shots and has a smooth 15-foot range jumper. We’re hoping she gets a little more aggressive in the paint and she and Ali should do some good things together.”

Juniors Maaike Tiersma and Cassidy Beday will provide some punch off the bench.

“They played JV last year but they’ll play some up here this season,” the coach said.

Bullock is really excited about his sophomore class.

“We have a really strong group of sophomores coming in led by Mackenzie Campbell who will play a lot and will battle for a starting position. She’s probably our best perimeter defender.

“She and Kim both have some great quicks and together they can just be tenacious on defense.”

Erin Hamilton and Midori McElwee are also in the mix.

“Erin will compete for some playing time and might even compete for a starting spot. She’s five-foot-nine, moves well and is a great shooter. Midori’s only about 5’ 3” but she’s a scrapper and can shoot the three-ball.”

Bullock said the Lady Falcs will look to run a little more than they did last year.

“We’re actually a little quicker overall this year than last, with Mackenzie and Erin, so we’ll look to play a little more up-tempo. Last year Melissa (Gilkey) was such a great half-court player that we slowed it down a bit, but Ali is a great transition player and some of these kids have some real quickness so we’ll probably push it a little more, press a little more.”

He was asked about what he considers the strength of the team.

“One positive thing is we have a lot of girls back from a successful team.

“And we have a great group of incoming girls. One of the challenges for us will be to come together chemistry-wise because a lot of these girls are new to each other and that takes some time.  Plus, we gotta stay healthy.”

The Lady Falcon party gets started Thursday at Issaquah, with a home game Friday against Inglemoor.

Falcon hoopsters fall in season opener

  • Written by Don Mann

Cold shooting was Woodinville’s undoing in its 56-52 opening game loss to Class 2A Cedarcrest at WHS on Wednesday.

The Falcons shot 38 percent from the floor and 18 percent from behind the arc going 4-for-22 from long range.

The Red Wolves from Duvall, led by Zach Taylor’s 21 points and 10 rebounds, knocked down 45 percent of their shots, including 39 percent from three-point land.

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Woodinville sophomore Tommy Wick led the Falcons with 15 points. Photo by Don Mann.
“They made their threes and we didn’t,” Falcon coach Jamie Rowe said.

“We had only one kid who played big varsity minutes last year and they returned like everybody from a team that went to state.”

Woodinville senior Robbie Jackson, the lone returning starter, had a career high nine assists — remarkable in that the Falcons only tallied 19 buckets.

Sophomore Tommy Wick led Woodinville with 15 points and junior Quinton Parker added 13 with seven rebounds.

Senior Brett Arrivey and junior John Villasenor, fresh off football season, did not suit up having not attended the required five preseason practices.

“You don’t like to lose but the one positive is that some kids got a chance to play more minutes than they might normally,” Rowe said. The 10th-year coach, coming off back-to-back winning seasons, is still fitting the pieces together to find the right mix with a squad that is undersized and not terribly experienced.

“Robbie and Brett started last year and (Matt) Laitala and (Jake) Miller played a little bit,” Rowe said.

He offered a brief scouting report on some of the parts that make up the whole.

Jackson: “Robbie’s a great athlete, great facilitator who sees the court well. He’s a strong kid whose shot’s a lot better and has a chance to play at the next level.

Arrivey: “He’s the quarterback and does all the little things well.

He’s the one that talks on defense and gets them set up. He understands the game, like a coach on the floor.”

Laitala: “One of our toughest kids. He’ll get in front and take charges, good shooter who gets some tough rebounds.”

Miller: “He’s our four guy (power forward), finesse kid we’d like to see be more physical but he can step out and shoot it; has a real nice stroke.”

Wick: “He’s a sophomore that woulda played some for us as a freshman if freshmen were allowed to play. He’s a player and has a good future for us.”

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Junior Jake Miller, who grabbed seven rebounds, gets tied up down low. Photo by Don Mann.
Parker: “Six-four kid who played JV last year but worked hard this summer and will be on the court a lot. He’s going more to the rim now, as opposed to fading away.”

Danny Ayvazov: “He drilled eight threes in a scrimmage this week; he can shoot. He’s our hardest worker — first kid to show up and last to leave, every day.”

Villasenor: “He’s athletic, a good leaper with good hands. Football player who has some catching up to do. He can grab some boards, too, but he has to go earn it.”

Playing in the ultra-competitive KingCo conference, Woodinville will have to earn everything they get.

“There’re no gimmes in this league and we gotta work hard every night,”

Rowe said. “Bothell’s ranked second in state, Skyline’s ranked third, Redmond’s getting some votes, Inglemoor’s gonna be good and Garfield is always good. Every game will be a challenge.”

What does he like most about this group?

“They’re unselfish, they like to share the ball and they like each other. We’re not the most talented group but five guys in a fist can do more damage than five guys playing alone.”

The Falcons host Issaquah Tuesday and Inglemoor Friday in non-league contests before conference play heats up in a hurry on December 13.

‘Young’ Falcon gymnasts aim high as new season begins

  • Written by Don Mann
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Bothell senior Raynie Hultgren, performing here on bars, placed first in the vault and all around. Photo by Don Mann.
It was a non-conference meet — a practice meet — the first of the season and the hefty, enthusiastic crowd at Bothell High School was treated to a sneak preview of what’s to come during the 2011-12 KingCo Class 4A gymnastics season.

For the record, the Lady Cougars came out on top with 162.5 points while Inglemoor and Woodinville tied for second with 159.95. Mercer Island, the 3A intruders, finished with 131.6.

Inglemoor’s Mina Tanaka took top honors in two events: the beam with a score of 9.15 and the floor at 9.5.

Woodinville’s Madison Engel finished first on bars with an 8.1, and Bothell’s Raynie Hultgren captured the vault at 9.4. Hultgren also won the all around at 35.95.

After winning four straight state titles from 2007 to 2010, Woodinville failed to make a state appearance last year, getting nosed out by Newport at the KingCo tournament, but 13-year head coach Kim Fleming believes this Falcon group will find its way back to the big dance.

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Woodinville’s Madison Engel, performing a backflip here on beam, placed first on bars. Photo by Don Mann.
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Falcon senior Julie Tollifson hits the vault with a twist. Photo by Don Mann.
“We’re very young but it’s a really good team and a nice group of girls,” she said. “The goal is definitely to make it to state again.

Two teams go from KingCo this year whereas before it’s always been one. Newport won it last year and they return everybody so we have our work cut out for us. But I like our chances.”

The Lady Falcons’ roster consists of two seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and five freshmen and the squad is led by co-captains Julie Tollifson, Megan McCallum and “Mad Dog” Engel.

“The good thing about our team is everybody’s strong all the way around, but the bad thing is it makes it hard to choose a lineup,”

Fleming said: “All of our sophomores performed as freshmen last year on varsity and this freshmen group is a really strong group. They’re stepping up to it right from the start and developing new skills.

They’re willing to try new things and their attitudes are super strong. There’s no negative on this team at all. The goal is state and although we’re young, young can do it,” Fleming said with a smile.  “When we won state the first time five years ago, we were young. So it can happen again. In this program we set the bar pretty high.”

Heartbreak in Tacoma as Falcons fall 26-21

  • Written by Don Mann
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Skyline senior Damian Greene breaks through a flock of Falcons on a catch-and-run to put the Spartans up 19-7 in the third quarter. Photo by Don Mann.
The Falcons fought the good fight but came up short.

A slow start saddled them with a 12-0 halftime deficit against an explosive Skyline squad and they labored to push the boulder back up the hill all day long.

Yet somehow they scratched and clawed and found themselves 14 yards away from the end zone and victory with 30 seconds left.

But Brett Arrivey’s fourth down pass play fell incomplete to put an end to its magical season--a galvanizing run that pulled the town together and made friends out of strangers--as the Spartans escaped with a 26-21 Class 4A semifinals win at the Tacoma Dome.

This one’s gonna hurt a long time for the Falcon seniors, who were superb soldiers all year.

“We got down early on a good Skyline team and they coulda put that game away but our kids stayed true to who we were, they believed, and we fought back and came awful close,” Woodinville coach Wayne Maxwell said. “But we came up a little short.”

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Brett Arrivey rumbles for a big gain in the first half. Photo by Don Mann.
The Falcons ran it for 22 yards in the first half. The Spartans passed it for 181.

Skyline’s halftime lead could easily been 17-0 but for two missed two- point extra point attempts and a shanked field goal.

Woodinville closed to 12-7 on their first second-half possession on a play-fake pass to a wide open Alec Schwend, and got it to 19-14 later on a 3-yard Arrivey run.

Then the Spartans--in perhaps the play of the game--dialed up a reverse off a timeout on 3rd-and-9 from 30 yards out that fooled the Falcon defense and went the distance for an apparent backbreaker to make it 26-14 with 3 minutes left.

But not so fast: On 3rd and 10 Arrivey rumbled for 11. He then found Alec Kazmarcik for 25 right down the middle and, after a penalty, hit a tumbling Vintertun in the end zone to make it 26-21 with 1:28 remaining as the Spartans shrugged their shoulders and Woodinville gained momentum.

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Alec Schwend found little running room against Skyline’s defense. Photo by Don Mann.
Destiny?

Connor Zaback’s perfect onside kick was misplayed by Skyline’s hands- team and Wyatt Smith recovered with 1:24 left on the Spartans’ 45.

Arrivey took a deep shot on first down to Kyle Adkins that was caught out of bounds. Incomplete.

He then found Vintertun alone up the middle with 1:18 left for what might have been a game-winning touchdown but Beau was caught from behind at the 14-yard line for a 36-yard gain.

Next play, flag on Woodinville for illegal use of hands, one of eight penalties that did damage and pushed momentum back.

Two incompletions later, the Falcons had a 3rd-and-14 from the 18 with 40 seconds left.

The coaches curiously opted for a quarterback draw, which produced four yards.

“We thought we might catch ‘em there and we knew we had two plays,”

Maxwell said.

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Beau Vintertun gathers in a late touchdown pass as Woodinville keeps hope alive. Photo by Don Mann.
It led to the incompletion on Woodinville’s last offensive chance with

31 seconds left, the gamer.

Skyline senior scatback Damian Greene was a major difference-maker for the Spartans, scoring three touchdowns including a 60-yard catch-and- run in the third quarter where he shrugged off at least three Falcon tacklers to take it to the house for a 19-7 third quarter lead.

Moments later, in one-on-one coverage, he caused a fumble as a DB and recovered it himself in a critical play that turned the tide for Skyline, a brilliant individual display.

Said Maxwell postgame: “We’re a family and our guys played their guts out all the time.”

He was asked about his team’s inability to run the ball effectively.

“They did a nice job on that early in their fits, committing guys to the line of scrimmage. They limited our opportunities in the first half and had the ball a lot. They converted on third downs to keep the chains moving and we didn’t. They controlled the tempo. That was probably the difference.”

How would he remember this group?

“Just a tough, hard-working group of guys who enjoyed being around each other and enjoyed competing,” he said. “They love to compete.”

Arrivey, the captain, was 25-for-38 for 273 yards and two TDs in a stellar performance with a running game that never got it going.

“He played like a champion,” Maxwell said.

Said Brett, between his unabashed tears: “We made some mistakes early but we never quit. It hurts a lot right now but I’m proud of my team...what we accomplished together...how hard we worked...how we bonded as a group... and we’ll be best friends forever. You can’t ask for more than that.”

Woodinville finished 12-1, the most wins in school history.

U14 Woodinville Recreational Cup District 2 Champions: Team Vortex

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

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Team Vortex has won District two in Rec. soccer. Back row: Coach Angus Walker, Sierra Block, Natalia Girling, Emma Glover, Hailey Heller, Abby Freid, Natalie Knoles, Lauren Matheson, Samantha Hook, Kate Carpenter, coach Mike Adams; middle: Kirann Gable, Krista Adams, Abby Woldman, Elizabeth Holt, Abby Holt, Erin Damon, Megan Hastie; front: Coach Annie Holt, Katie Walker, Mondona Behroozian. Courtesy photo.