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Highland girls return a lot of talent
After missing the state tournament by one game last season, this years Highland Christian Prep girls basketball bunch should be primed and ready to make another big run.
Coach Steve Brown has a smattering of returning talent that should compete favorably this season.
Leading the way will be senior ballhandler Tia Breekveldt. The elusive Breekveldt will bring the ball up against opposing pressure, initiate the Highland offense and play a key role in the offense.
Tias intelligent and plays with a lot of heart, said Brown. We feel good when shes out there. Shes a good floor general and she keeps her head in tight situations.
Joining Breekveldt in the backcourt will be Kaila Graber, a junior wing. Graber can fill it up from outside and plays a strong, physical brand of defense that Coach Brown appreciates.
Two key post players also return for the Knights including Chelsey Graber. Graber is an athletic post who scored in double digits nearly every game last year.
Chelsey was our top scorer a year ago, said Brown. Shes also a solid rebounder for us.
Shell be joined on the front line by Sharaya Burrows, another smooth athlete.
Sharaya is a terrific rebounder, said Brown. Shes got a good inside game around the basket and she plays smart all the time.
Sarah Brown rounds out the starting lineup and will be called upon to do a bit of everything for the Knights.
Shes the leader of the team, said Brown. Sarahs in on every play, making things happen. She gets steals, she plays great defense, shes an all-around talent. At times last year she proved to be indispensible.
This years team will be challenged by North Sound and Lummi for league supremacy.
We went to districts last year against North Sound, said Brown. They beat us by five points in the game that sent the winner to state and the loser home.
The two teams split their regular season series last year and will both be striving for the top spot again.
I was proud of everybody after that last game, said Brown. We fought extremely hard but unfortunately came up a little short. Our program has been building and improving.
The three-way battle for the league title this year could come down to contrasting styles and how each team adapts to facing unique opponents. Brown believes that Lummi runs the best fast break of the three, and that North Sound has the strongest inside game. Highland will look to counter each team with their athleticism and saavy.
The Knights run a competent half-court offense in addition to their running game. Brown believes he has enough of an inside-outside attack to keep teams honest.
Its not a complicated system, said Brown, but we work tirelessly to get the fundamentals down and implement it.
On defense Brown expects to press and play a lot of pressure man-to-man defense.
You cant go to state without being able to both put on and handle a press, said Brown. Its risky but its exciting. Unless were facing superior ballhandlers I expect to press a lot this year.
Brown emphasizes the work ethic necessary to have success.
Winning is extremely important, said Brown. But more than winning I want us to play good, hard, fighting basketball. Were trying to develop a love of the game in the girls. Its important to me that they are passionate about the game. In my opinion, theres really nothing better than a good, hard-fought basketball game.