The Hockinson girls basketball team has its team motto, “Hawk Havoc” emblazoned on warmup shirts.
It’s a message to opposing teams, and perhaps, a reminder to be the toughest on the floor.
On Monday, that motto could be seen in Hockinson’s defensive display. The Hawks employed a half-court trap that garnered 24 steals in a 56-48 win over Woodland to open 2A Greater St. Helens League play.
Woodland put the pressure on Hockinson’s usual actors, seniors Payton Wangler and Grace Russell, who were held 10 points below their combined season average of 30 per game.
So the Hawks turned to junior guard Emma Dietel, who finished with a team-high 17 points, eight steals and five rebounds.
“They came out and played defense and shut (Wangler) down,” Hockinson coach Damon Roche said. “She’s been scoring at will these first four games. … Emma Dietel stepped up. She took care of it.”
Freshman Lillie Mueller finished with 11 rebounds.
For fear of Woodland’s consistent ability to get to the free throw line, Roche held off on sending a full-court press. The Hawks did their disruption at the half court, and produced.
“We got some deflections, pushed them deep in their shot clock, got them to rush some shots and had a lot of steals,” Roche said. “Everybody had a hand on the ball.”
In a tie game 24-all at halftime, the Hawks started the second half on a 7-0 run by way of forcing turnovers, which then created fast-break buckets.
It was a neck-and-neck game throughout. Hockinson (2-2 overall, 1-0 league) led by one going into the fourth, and an Ady Dyer layup put them up by as much as nine, the largest lead of the game (Dyer had six of her eight points in the fourth). But Woodland sophomore Kelly Sweyer hit a 3 to pull the Beavers within two with just over 3 minutes left.
Woodland (4-2, 0-1) was led by Payten Foster and Dana Glovick, who had 11 points apiece.
Woodland coach Glen Flanagan credited the Hawks’ pressure for a turnover-filled night. But also, their own mistakes hurt the Beavers, too.
“We missed probably six or seven wide-open lay-ins,” he said. “In the second half, it was much of the same.”
The Beavers held Wangler, the Hawks’ four-year starter, to nine points Monday. She’s inching closer to becoming the program’s career scoring leader. It could come as early as Wednesday at Mountain View.
“It feels awesome,” Wangler said about closing in on the record. “This is the best team we’ve ever had as far as playing together. Best chemistry I’ve ever had on a team.”
For Roche, his approach to nonleague is the beginning to pay off and starting off league play with a win further proves his point. The Hawks scheduled three games against Class 4A opponents and took their lumps,
But the first three games, Roche said, were more about preparation than wins and losses.
“I promised the girls that would pay off whether we lose or not,” he said. “I felt it would payoff come league time getting beat up would make us a little tougher and help us keep our composure. We didn’t melt down in the fourth quarter (tonight).”