It wasn’t much of a relaxing holiday for some local basketball teams.
Two squads – the Bellevue boys and Newport girls – traveled out of state to prestigious tournaments while another, the Sammamish boys, stayed in town to play in the Bellevue College Holiday Tournament.
The Newport girls returned from the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Ariz., with a fifth-place finish, not bad for a squad that had an 0-6 record prior to leaving the state.
“I was extremely proud of our approach down there, as we didn’t enter a tournament of that caliber with the ideal flow and circumstance to our season at that point,” said Newport coach Travis Whitaker, “but the girls had a mindset that we were going to try and get better and made sure we competed at a high level in all four games.”
Newport, playing in the third of five brackets, went 3-1 in the tournament, defeating their first opponent, Bishop Alemany of Mission Hills, Calif., 46-38. Freshman Casey Schoenlein had a tremendous game for Newport, scoring 14 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking six shots. Schoenlein would finish the tournament with a team-high 35 points, 41 rebounds and 18 blocks in the four games.
The team struggled in the next game, a quarterfinals loss to Huntington Beach, shooting just 3-of-15 in the second half in a 58-27 loss. The team rallied the next game however, beating Chatsworth, the 2009 Los Angeles City Champions, 60-53. The team was led by Chanel Cambronero in the win, as the senior not only scored 14 points and dished out six assists, but also held University of Portland signee Jasmine Wooton to just 7 of 21 shooting from the field. Schoenlein again had a double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks.
The Knights completed the tournament with a team effort, as no player scored in double figures, but nine of 12 players scored in a 49-45 victory over Mullen High School of Denver.
Schoenlein and Camrbonero were both named to the All-Tournament team. Now 3-6, Whitaker hopes his team can take the momentum built in Arizona and apply it to league play.
“We are certainly hoping we can carry that through this holiday break and into the new year, continue to build in our conference and get back into this thing,” he said. “We are very young, but we have the talent to be a tough team if we keep the proper mindset and allow that process to take shape.”
The No.4 Bellevue (7-2) boys traveled to California to take part in the ESPN Holiday Tournament over the break. The team went 2-2 at the tournament, winning their first game against Jordan of Long Beach, Calif., 67-57 before suffering their first loss of the season in a 69-65 defeat at the hands of La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad, Calif. John Ahrens scored a season-high 20 points in the loss.
The team would rebound in the third game, as Kendrick Van Ackeren scored 16 points and Nate Sikma had 14 to lead the Wolverines past Kamehameha of Hawaii 65-49.
Despite a 33-28 lead, Bellevue couldn’t hold on in their final game, losing to Windward of Los Angeles 68-67.
No.10 Sammamish (8-2) finished second in the Bellevue College Holiday Tournament, rolling through the week before losing to Inglemoor 61-57 in the championship game despite a game-high 23 points from junior point guard George Valle.
The Totems breezed through their first two games of the tournament, beating South Kitsap 64-40 on Dec. 28 and Bear Creek 65-43 on Dec. 29. Valle scored 56 points in the three games, while fellow junior John Steinberg scored 25 against Bear Creek.
Both boys teams hope back into action tonight, with Bellevue hosting Mount Si (4-6), Sammamish travels to Kirkland to play Juanita (2-7), while the Newport girls are off until Wednesday, when they will host Bothell. All games start at 7:30 p.m.