Knights retool lineup, welcome varsity newcomers | Girls basketball

Kamiak relying on 4 returners to lead its younger players
By David Pan | Dec 06, 2017
Photo by: David R Pan Senior guard Alex Gallaher is one of the Knights’ top shooters.

In some ways, 2017-18 is the start of a new era for the Kamiak girls basketball program.

The Knights graduated five starters and a total of seven seniors from last season’s two-time state regional playoff team.

Four returning reserve players – junior point guard Hunter Beirne, senior wing Alex Gallaher, senior wing Karsen Alexander and senior post Carolyn Brunner – form the core of the Knights.

All four saw action off the bench last year. The same can’t be said for the remaining players, who are moving up from junior varsity.

“I’m really excited for this group,” Kamiak coach Brian Norman said. “They’ve got a lot of energy and camaraderie and I think that’s going to take us a long way.”

Beirne, a co-captain with Gallaher, said that there are advantages to having so many new players.

“I like it. It gives room for us to grow as a team,” Beirne said. “Everybody is open to listening to what other people have to say. When people give suggestions, everybody is open to it.”

Gallaher agrees that all the players are focused on building strong relationships with their teammates and helping each other on the court.

While getting back to the district tournament is one of the team’s goals, Gallaher said the Knights are focusing on areas that will lead to that success.

“It’s more about a team environment, working together and focusing on assists rather than points,” Gallaher said.

Beirne is ready to assume the starting point guard duties.

“I see it as just kind of helping direct everybody on the court and just cheering everyone on,” Beirne said. “For the new girls, I’m just trying to make it a super warm environment.”

Norman expects Beirne to bring her energy to the court.

“She’s a fast player. She likes to get out and run. She likes to attack,” Norman said.

The Kamiak coach is relying on Beirne to use her speed to drive to the hoop and to create openings for her teammates. Beirne also is a good rebounder, Norman said.

“She sees the court well,” he added. “I expect a bunch from her this year. I expect her to lead.”

In the past, Gallaher also has played the point guard but she’ll be focusing on the shooting guard role this year.

“I enjoy it. I think it’s nice having Hunter. Then I can run the wing,” Gallaher said. “She’s a great passer too. She always hits the wing.”

Both Gallaher and Alexander have the ability to stretch the defense by hitting the outside shot. Brunner is expected to rebound and finish around the basket, Norman said.

Brunner, at 5-foot-11, along with sophomores Brooke Erlandsen (5-10) and Sloane Loudenback (5-10) give Kamiak a little more height than last year.

But the Knights likely still will be undersized against some of their Wesco 4A opponents.

In addition to positioning under the hoop, Kamiak will have to utilize its speed, Beirne said.

“I think a lot of times what’s going to happen is we’re just going to have get quickly back on defense,” she said. “We’re just going to have to learn to get a quick rebound and transition fast. I think a lot of it is going to be playing really solid defense and boxing out.”

As the Knights did last year, everyone is expected to crash the boards.

“We’re going to have to fight and scrap for every rebound,” Norman said.

The younger players will notice how much faster and physical varsity ball is compared to junior varsity, Gallaher noted.

“You always have to expect someone is coming at you from a different angle,” Beirne added. “I think once they play a couple of games and get used to it, I think they’re all going to pick up the speed of the game really well.”

Kamiak opened the season with a 71-56 victory over Lynnwood on Wednesday, Nov. 29, and then lost 57-42 to Arlington on Friday, Dec. 1. Beirne scored 24 points, Gallaher added 19 and Alexander had 11 against the Royals. The Knights fell behind 16-4 in the first quarter in the loss. Beirne led Kamiak with 17 points.

“We want to compete and win, but ultimately we want to get better each step of the way,” Norman said. “I think success might not be measured in wins and losses all the time.”

Norman sees three keys to the season – not giving up offensive rebounds, not turning the ball over and not allowing transition baskets.

“If we can do those three things, we’ll be in every game,” he said. “If we get a little lazy, we could have some long nights.”

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