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Lady Trojans riding high
Team is on four-game winning streak as Olympic League play continues.
The Olympic High School girls basketball team sputtered into winter break with an 0-6 record last season.
A pair of blowout losses to open the year snowballed into a winless December, and despite a 12-5 record from there out, the team missed the playoffs.
With those memories in mind, the 2009-10 Lady Trojans charged to a 5-2 start and are enjoying the holidays on a four-game winning streak.
“The wins have definitely brought us together,” said point guard Brooke Jordan. “We’re all very competitive, and we work together through that competitiveness to beat the other teams. It brings us together.”
The team came together following a season-opening loss to Ingraham High School in which it shot just 29.6 percent from the field and 39 percent from the free-throw line.
It was a wake-up call the Lady Trojans needed.
“That made us realize we needed to pick it up, because we know we should have beat Ingraham,” Jordan said. “We were like, ‘OK, we need to step up as a team.’”
With five wins in the past six game, Olympic has catapulted into second place in the league standings behind Port Angeles High School, to whom the Lady Trojans lost by eight points Dec. 8.
A victory over Central Kitsap High School two weeks later — the first time since the 1997-98 season an Olympic team defeated Central Kitsap — propelled the team into second place.
Momentum — and team chemistry — continues to build.
“We are playing out our pace and not the other teams’ pace,” said post player Samantha Thornton, who is averaging 9.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
Thornton leads the team in scoring, but coach Laurie Shaw is benefiting from a well-balanced offensive attack. No player on the team is averaging double figures, but four are posting eight or more points per game.
Additionally, the Lady Trojans are out-rebounding their opponents 290-209.
“On any given night, it could be somebody else that leads us in scoring,” Shaw said. “There isn’t one girl to go out there and stop.”
Shaw hopes to see improved free-throw shooting — the team is hovering around 48 percent — and attributes both losses to poor shooting from the line.
Olympic was 6-of-14 from the line against Port Angeles and lost by eight.
“We’re probably in a situation where, if we had hit our free throws, both of our losses could have been wins,” Shaw said.
Shooting guard Riza Suriben, whom Shaw called a “phenomenal athlete,” is averaging a team-high 9.4 points per game, and sophomore newcomer Jalyn Halstead is posting 9.3 to go with 8.9 rebounds.
Both Halstead and Suriben have filled the void left by the graduation of three starters from last year’s team and a fourth starter who didn’t return to school in the fall.
“The one thing I can say about this team is I don’t feel like there are cliques,” Shaw said. “Everybody gets along.”