By WESLEY REMMER
ORLANDO, Fla. — The sunny trip to Florida would have been brighter if the Bremerton girls basketball team had won all of its games, but the team isn’t complaining.
Last weekend, the Lady Knights travelled to Orlando for a three-day holiday tournament where they competed against teams from Florida, California and New Jersey.
Though BHS (2-3, 3-6) struggled to find rhythm on the court, dropping all three games, the team gained chemistry as a unit off the court. And at this point in the season — nine games in and the playoffs still within reach — cohesiveness may be worth more to the Lady Knights than “Ws.”
The team will re-enter Olympic League play having lost six straight games, but is only two games behind first-place teams Olympic and Port Angeles in league losses.
Head coach Daniel McInnis thought last night’s game at first-place Olympic would be a tell-tale sign of what’s to come for his team.
“We’ll find out a lot on Friday,” he said.
Results of that contest were unavailable at press time.
As the season wears on, the Lady Knights will face every team ahead of them in the standings.
“We still play all those teams,” McInnis added. “We just need to get wins.”
Despite coming back from Florida empty in the win column, the proverbial BHS suitcase was still packed full.
On defense especially, McInnis is confident his team can instill what they learned down South into the Olympic League.
“We’re going to continue to work on the trap, which we’ve been doing in practice,” he said.
The Knights’ defense faced its biggest challenge in the first game of the tournament, against Vista Murietta (Calif.). BHS couldn’t slow down Vista’s offense, yielding at least 15 points in every quarter, and lost 76-47. Michelle Dubrall led the Knights in scoring with 11 points.
The next day, however, BHS buckled down as it faced a Florida team — Colonial High — in what was a back-and-forth, defensive game. Colonial led 20-13 at half-time, but BHS trimmed the margin to two, 29-27, entering the fourth-quarter. Down the stretch, however, Colonial executed when BHS didn’t and the Knights fell short, 43-36.
On the tournament’s final day, the Lady Knights squared off against Union High (N.J.) in what was their closest game of the weekend.
Union jumped out early, grabbing a 13-6 lead in the first-quarter, but Bremerton scratched and clawed, narrowing the gap to four entering the fourth.
Again, though, the fourth-quarter wasn’t friendly to the Knights as Union prevailed 34-31.
Although the box scores weren’t in favor of the Knights, McInnis thought his team gained valuable experience by facing unfamiliar opponents.
“It was a very good experience to go down and play against other teams we don’t see,” McInnis said. “It gave us an opportunity to see a different style of play.”
And different style of play it was.
There was no shot clock in any of the games, forcing BHS to play an unfamiliar game pace. The absence of a shot clock also led to low-scoring outcomes and, as a result, every possession was important.
“With no shot clock, the games were very slow,” McInnis said. “We would be on defense for two or three minutes at a time.”
While play on the court was slow at times, the Lady Knights kept busy away from the hardwood.
With all sorts of recreational activities at their disposal, the players and coaches capitalized on the getaway from rainy Washington.
“They went to Universal Studios,” McInnis said of his players. “They road the ‘Kraken’ roller-coaster at Sea World.”
And the team spent all of its downtime together.
“It was nice for us to be together, to eat together, to do things that we normally wouldn’t do,” McInnis said.
BHS also had a chance to watch the Magic play — Orlando’s professional basketball team — although some, especially coach McInnis, were torn when it came time to root for a non-Seattle sport’s team.
“Man, it was hard. It was tough to sit in the stands and root for a team other than the Sonics,” he said.
The Lady Knights now hope to build on their team experience as Olympic League play resumes.
The team faced Olympic last night and will host Klahowya on Tuesday.