GIRLS BASKETBALL: Foster has plenty of positives to take from season

The Foster girls basketball team mostly cruised through the Seamount regular season, racking up a record of 11-3 and finishing second.

Once the Bulldogs reached the postseason, things changed.

Foster (16-10) fell to White River, Port Angeles and Eatonville in the first three playoff games and their hopes for a run to state suddenly looked bleak.

“The next two games were elimination games,” said Foster coach Richard Lewis. “The girls were determined not to lose and they never trailed in either game. It was just pure will.”

Foster beat Sequim 74-54 and Clover Park 39-26 to solidify the school’s first state berth since 2007.

“The girls totally committed themselves to correcting mistakes,” Lewis said. “The captains led that charge and took the bull by the horns and decided to go to state.”

In its lone Class 2A state tournament game, Foster fell to W.F. West 57-47. The Bulldogs led most of the game, but gave way to fatigue late in the loss to the Bearcats. W.F. West outscored Foster 22-10 in the final quarter.

“They were happy to accomplish their goal of getting to state, but they weren’t completely satisfied,” Lewis said. “They felt like they could win it all this year.”

The Bulldogs have reason to hope for big things next year. Star Sahara Hill will return as a senior. Hill was third in the Seamount in scoring, 18.8 points per game, first in rebounding, 14.1 per game, fourth in steals, 5.0 per game, and fifth in blocks, 1.3 per game, this season.

Foster added Shantell Jackson as an excellent scoring threat next to Hill this season. Jackson will be a junior next year. She averaged 16.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game this season.

“Adding Shantell took some of the load off of Sahara,” Lewis said. “She felt like she had to carry the team every night and this year some of the focus was taken off of her… Because of the attention Sahara demands, it opened things up for Shantell.”

Lewis said Hill and Jackson will play on the same AAU team this summer, building even more chemistry together.

Junior Bianca Benevides will also return next season. Benevides was the team’s third leading scorer at 7.4 points per game. She led the team in assists (3.2 per game) and was strong on defense with 2.3 steals per game.

Overall, Foster only loses three seniors from this year’s team: Destiny Beasley, Shalia Johnson and Tigist Abebe.

Also helping the Bulldogs’ confidence is the level of competition they faced this year. Of the final eight teams in the 2A state tournament, Foster played three (W.F. West, River Ridge and White River). While the Bulldogs lost all three games, they did hold second-half leads against every team but River Ridge.

“The fact that we were competitive against those teams and actually had leads late gives us a lot of confidence,” Lewis said. “I really like our chances to win it all next year.”

[flipp]

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