Photos by Don Mann
t’s hard to argue that in five years at the helm Scott Bullock has established the Woodinville girls’ basketball program as one of the top in state, as evidenced by an 85-36 record over that span, including fifth and sixth places finishes at the state tournament the last two years.
The Lady Falcons sport a glittering 64-14 record over the last three years, which includes at least 20 wins in each campaign.
But closer inspection reveals those came in the Ali Forde era, and the all-everything, human high school double-double is now making her presence felt as a freshman at the University of Idaho.
Bullock, a friend, laughed when it was suggested this was the year we’d find out what kind of coach he was.
“We’ve been real fortunate the last few years to have had some really talented players,” he said. “Someone like Ali Forde doesn’t come around often and before that we had Melissa Gilkey. Both are playing college ball (Gilkey at Washington University in St. Louis). So it’ll be a little more challenging this year but I think it’s gonna be fun. We have some talented girls who want to compete and we have some speed.”
Senior guard and captain Kim Frost fits both categories.
“I think Kim will have a really nice year,” Bullock said. “She’s a three-year starter who’s been to state a couple times and she’s taken the leadership role by the reins.”
The other captain, voted by teammates last week, is senior guard Seattle Farner, who returns to the program after sitting out her junior year. “Seattle is back after finding out how much she missed the game. She’s someone the girls look up to and like a lot, and she’s a really tough defender.”
Six-foot-one Amanda Skalabrin returns and will start at the post, where Forde reigned for three years.
“We’re not asking her to be Ali,” Bullock acknowledged. “We don’t expect her to be Ali. But Amanda has some real nice offensive skills, is a good shot blocker and can even shoot the three-ball. She should have a good year.”
Bullock said 6-foot-1 sophomore Keenae Tiersma will also find some time in the paint.
“Keenae is going to be a very good player. She’s long, very coordinated, has nice hands and a nice touch.”
Bullock then spoke about his two juniors who made huge contributions as sophomores on last year’s 23-4 squad, beginning with 5-8 Mackenzie Campbell, a do-it-all type on the verge of stardom.
“Mackenzie had a breakout year last year and worked really hard in the offseason,” he said. “I like to compare her to Gilkey in the sense that she’s a fiery competitor who wants to win. She’s just a battler. When she comes to practice there’s no messing around, it’s all about going to work and getting the job done.”
Bullock believes 5-9 Erin Hamilton is also ready to take the next step. “I honestly think Erin is one of the best pure shooters who’s come from this high school,” he said. “Really nice fluid shooting motion, really nice touch. The big thing with Erin is confidence. I think she’s a great shooter but she needs to believe she’s a great shooter.”
Bullock will get instant offense off the bench from returners Midori McElwee and Cassidy Berday.
“Midori can light it up — she had five threes against Bothell — and Cassidy can score in a hurry, too.”
Madison Ramirez, Tynan Gable, Sabin Keo and freshman Emily Spencer look to play meaningful minutes as Bullock, without the half-court horses he’s had in the recent past, will likely go back to employing the press, at least a little.
“We’ve got a lot of girls that can play, a lot of girls that are fast, and that lends itself to playing up-tempo. So, yeah, we’ll press a little more than we did the last couple years.”
The Lady Falcons open up at home Wednesday against Tahoma.