Freshmen-dominated Knights bring energy, enthusiasm | Girls basketball

Developing squad has high hoops IQ
By David Pan | Dec 14, 2017 Edmonds Beacon
The future is bright for King’s girls basketball team.

Of the 19 players in the program 11 of them are freshmen. Five of those freshmen are on varsity.

“Boys or girls, I’ve never coached a younger team,” King’s coach Dan Taylor said. “These kids are a delight. They are all very coachable. Even though we’re young, we have good basketball IQ. They’re a pretty scrappy bunch. I’m excited for the next few years. … Once they understand our system and how our program operates, I think the sky’s the limit for this group in the next couple of years.”

Only a handful of players return from last year’s Bi-District playoff team. This year’s team has no senior class and only two juniors – Dominique Kirton and Rachel Phelan. Kirton is the lone returning starter and a player the Knights will be relying on for leadership.

“She brings a lot of energy and cohesiveness with our group,” Taylor said. “She’s very strong on the court. She can play any position really. She’s improved in her offensive skills. She plays against posts, against guards. She has an impact on both ends of the court.”

Kirton was a member of the Knights’ volleyball team that won the state championship this fall. She’s not the only state champion as freshmen Peri Welch and Mia Flor played for the soccer team that also won a state title last month.

The championship experience by those three players will help the young Knights basketball team, Taylor said.

“They know how to play at a high level,” he said.

Flo scored a game-high 25 points in King’s season-opening 69-40 victory over Seattle Academy and freshman Claire Gallagher added 11 points. Kirton scored 21 points, Flor contributed 20 and Gallagher had 18 in a 77-24 rout over Granite Falls.

“They’re always willing to work hard,” Kirton said of the freshmen. “They’re very confident, which is good.”

The freshmen also bring speed to the lineup.

“We’re a lot faster than we have been because we have such young players,” Phelan said.

The Knights had a busy schedule over the summer that included two tournaments in California. All of the off-season games brought the players closer together.

“Our summer season helped a lot in developing the new relationships,” Phelan said.

“Coming in this year, it wasn’t like everyone was new to each other,” Kirton added. “We got to know each other pretty well. … They (freshmen) have caught on pretty quickly.”

Gallagher handles the point guard duties and brings veteran poise on the court.

“She’s very composed and consistent,” Kirton said. “She’s very mature for her age.”

Welch and sophomore Emma Storkson also can play point guard. Taylor likes have extra ball handlers on the court.

“This is the best ball handling team that I’ve had,” he said.

Kirton said that some people have their doubts about the Knights because of the team’s lack of experience.

“I do think that we can prove a lot of people wrong with the lineup we have,” Kirton said.