In recent years, the Brookings-Harbor girls basketball team has been a perennial powerhouse in the Far West League, amassing a conference record of 30-2 in three seasons from 2013-2016.
Last season however, was something of a rude awakening for the Bruins, who went 5-5 (13-11 overall) and finished fourth in conference play after going undefeated the two seasons prior. Now a year wiser and more mature, the Bruins hope to make their way back towards the top of the Far West League.
While the Bruin roster was dotted by mostly seniors and juniors last year, the team was plagued by several injuries and forced to call up a number of junior varsity players.
“I think one of the causes was we were kind of young, we were inexperienced so we were playing kids that hadn’t really had the varsity experience yet,” said senior point guard Abby Farmer, who is currently 5th all-time in career points scored for the Bruins. “(It) was obviously hard to adjust to the game speed and stuff like that. That was kind of one of the problems, also our league is getting more dominant I guess, the other teams are getting better and more skilled.”
The team’s inexperience was evident: After accumulating a 60 to 70 percent win rate in one or two possession games the past 10 years, the Bruins only managed to pull out two wins out of six games.
“To me that just screams two things,” said head coach Chris Schofield. “Coaching, which I could’ve done a better job in close games, and guard play. Part of our hope is with a year under some of their belts, instead of going from junior varsity to varsity and being thrown to the fire, they’ll be a little more experienced, a little more capable and a little more ready to handle late game execution stuff.
“I think you win a couple of those, and it changes the entire dynamic of the season, and their belief in themselves.”
It won’t just be the dynamic of the season that the Bruins will look to change however, but the composition of their team as well.
“In the past we’ve been really post-dominant, and this year we’re the complete opposite,” said Farmer. “We’re really guard heavy which is really nice — We want to push tempo, so that makes it easy for fast-paced and getting the ball before and stuff like that, and that’ll be a different dynamic for us and stuff like that.”
And although the Bruins will be running a quicker offense, that doesn’t mean they won’t be looking to replace the production they received from All-League center Sienna Worthey in the post last year.
“I don’t think we have a kid that, at least not yet, throw the ball to on the block and let her go to work like we were able to with Sienna,” Schofield said. “That is a drastic difference with the way we’re going to play, but we’ll still throw it into the post and try to play a little bit of inside out.”
While the Bruins will have to compensate for the loss of Worthey, Schofield noted that the team’s perimeter play will likely seen an improvement this year.
“I think we’ll have better shooters,” Schofield said. “That was one of our big weaknesses last year, and I think that was a mix of a lack of talent; girls just haven’t spent enough time in the gym and lack of confidence, sometimes a wide open shot all by yourself is harder than a regular shot in rhythm. You think too much, and I think that really hurt us last year. Kids just weren’t prepared for the mental pressure of having to make wide open shots all by themselves.
“If girls step up and they do the things we think they’re capable of, then it’ll be a great year. If they don’t, then we’re gonna scheme and fake our way into the best we can to get help where we can.”
If the seniors on the team have anything to say about that however, the latter option won’t be necessary.