Bellevue Wolverines junior Annika Prins, left, attacks the basket while being defended by Issaquah Eagles player Mariah Van Halm, right, in a non-league matchup on Nov. 30 at Bellevue High School. The Wolverines defeated the Eagles 79-59. Photo courtesy of Don Borin/Stop Action Photography

Wolverines defeat Eagles in season opener

The Class 3A 2015-16 state champions turned in a dominating performance in their first contest of the 2016-17 season against the Issaquah Eagles.

The Bellevue Wolverines girls basketball team, who has five new starters on the floor this season, cruised to a dominating 79-59 win against the Issaquah Eagles in a non-league matchup on Nov. 30 at Bellevue High School.

Bellevue unveiled a full-court pressure defense for the majority of the first half, which frustrated the Eagles’ offensive attack. Bellevue head coach Noah Wulbert, who is in his first season as the team’s head coach after being a Wolverines assistant coach the past nine seasons, said his team’s philosophy is to constantly put pressure on their opponents.

“We really want to create chaos. We are all about our defensive pressure and making everything not easy for the teams we face. We work really hard on our conditioning. We just kind of wore them (Issaquah) down and wore them down,” Wulbert said.

The Wolverines may have lost stars Anna Wilson, Shelby Cansler, Quinessa Caylao-Do and Tatiana Streun from last year’s championship team to graduation, but Wulbert is confident in his team’s abilities on the hardwood this year.

“People are counting us out and think we lost everything. We really have a chip on our shoulder right now. We want to show people what we got,” Wulbert said. “We want to get back to state again and really set the tone. That is what we’re here for.”

Bellevue junior guard Annika Prins scored 21 points in the final three quarters of play against Issaquah. Bellevue senior Ann-Marie Jacobs hit four three-pointers in the final three quarters of play as well. Bellevue freshman guard Kara Choi distributed the ball from her point guard position and added six points in the final 24 minutes of play.

The Eagles, who trailed Bellevue 36-20 at halftime, didn’t get deterred despite trailing by a significant margin. The Eagles hit nine three-pointers in the game to keep Bellevue’s lead to less than 20 points for most of the game. Eagles junior Mariah Van Halm, who scored 14 points in the loss, is confident her team will rebound in its upcoming contests.

“We are in every single game we play. We just need to limit our turnovers and not allow them so many second chances,” Van Halm said of the loss to Bellevue.

Van Halm was thrilled to see her team hitting their field goals from the perimeter but said her squad is determined to fine-tune all aspects of the game in order to reach their goals this season.

“It was working for us tonight. We have been working on shooting a lot at practice but that is not going to be our only way that we can score,” she said. “We want to make it to state (tournament). It is a whole new team and no one knows what to expect but we want to get to state.”

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