Chelan has never been an easy place to play for the Cascade Kodiaks. So, even though the Kodiaks nearly blew a 20 point lead on Jan. 16, Head Coach Todd Fraker was nonetheless pleased his girls held on for the 51-46 victory.
"Anytime you walk out of Chelan with a win, you feel good. Even when they came storming back to make it close, it felt good to get out of there with a win," Fraker said.
Cascade could do no wrong in the first half, shooting a scorching 63 percent from field. And senior guard Kelsey Graham had a breakout performance, going 7-for-9 from the field with a pair threes.
The Kodiaks led 16-10 in the first quarter and 33-18 at the half.
"The first half was sensational. That was the best half of basketball we have played," he said. "Kelsey Graham was on fire. She outscored Chelan herself in the first half. We held them to 20 percent shooting."
Cascade extended their lead in the third quarter, but with about six minutes to go, Chelan started to come back. The Goats turned up the pressure and the Kodiaks became a little tense and tentative. It was pretty tight with a couple minutes to go.
"The things that sticks out to me. When we had to, we made clutch free throws by three different girls," he said. "That solidified the win for us. You never want to lose a 20 point lead, but we needed a game like this where we had to handle pressure."
Graham led the way with 23 points. Cascade out-rebounded Chelan 36-31.
Last Friday, Cascade hosted the unbeaten Brewster Bears. The league leaders were as good as advertised, never quite letting Cascade in the game, winning 74-45. Shooting was again the big issue for the Kodiaks, as they struggled from the floor, shooting just 24 percent.
"When I look at the stats, the shooting percentage was the difference in the game," he said. "We took the same number of shots. The turnovers were relatively close. It came down to shooting percentage. They shot better than we did."
Brewster is led by playmaking forward Chandler Smith, the likely league MVP. The Bears led 13-9 in the first quarter and 33-19 at the half. The Bears outscored the Kodiaks 22-14 in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
Sophomore Kaycee O'Brien led Cascade with 11 points and seven rebounds. Graham had 10. Junior Sydney Coffin had eight points and 13 rebounds. Smith had 17 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks and two steals.
"You try to concentrate on Smith as much as you can. When you do that, it opens up shots for other girls," he said. "That makes them very tough to beat."
Brewster shot 50 percent from the field, including 6-for-14 on threes. Cascade was 2-for-14 on threes. The Kodiaks did out-rebound the Bears 44-41.
"We just have to learn how to play against a good defensive team," he said. "They do a lot of help. They sag off. We just have to work on execution and be stronger with the ball."
With the loss, Cascade dropped to 5-4 in league play and 11-4 overall. The Kodiaks are currently in fifth place behind Brewster (10-0), Chelan (7-2), Okanogan (7-3) and Cashmere (7-3).
Cascade played at Cashmere last night. Results were not available before press time. The Kodiaks host Chelan tomorrow, then play at Tonasket (1-9, 2-12) on Saturday.
"We're stuck in fifth place with five games left. We feel like we can win those five games," he said. "Meanwhile, Cashmere, Brewster, Okanogan and Chelan all play each other. It's going to be a wild final week and a half."
Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or email@example.com.