By David Krueger Herald Writer
LAKE STEVENS — The first girls basketball game of 2013 for Jackson and Lake Stevens was almost as much about who wasn’t on the court as who was.
The Vikings’ Brooke Pahukoa — last year’s Herald Player of the Year — and Jackson’s Kelli Kingma — who led her team to a fourth place finish at last year’s state tournament — both sat out nursing injuries.
The two looked on from the bench as Timberwolves’ sophomore Faithaleen Lopez-Flores scored 29 points to lead Jackson to a 62-48 Wesco 4A win Wednesday night at Lake Stevens High School.
“Our girls did a good job of keeping their composure,” said Jackson head coach Jeannie Boyer. “… A lot of girls are stepping up right now.”
Jackson suffered a significant blow before Christmas, when Kingma tore her medial collateral ligament. Kingma, who was on the sidelines cheering her teammates on, had surgery on Dec. 27 to repair the damage.
However, Boyer said it looks like Kingma’s junior season may be over.
“We hope to get her back, but she might be done (for the season),” Boyer said.
Lopez-Flores began providing offense as soon as the game started. She made three consecuitve 3-pointers and had 15 points for Jackson at halftime. The only thing that slowed her down was the rim, which caught and held onto her fourth 3-point attempt.
Lopez-Flores netted another 10 points in the final quarter, abruptly ending a Lake Stevens rally in the final minutes.
“She’s been shooting the ball very well,” Boyer said. “To our other players’ credit, they did a great job of getting her the ball.”
On the other bench, the Vikings’ Pahukoa was nursing a dislocated pinky finger she injured in a holiday tournament last weekend. After going up for a rebound, she fell backwards and caught herself on the floor, causing her pinky to “kind of (pop) out,” according to Lake Stevens head coach Randall Edens.
“The top half of her pinky was bent, at a 90-degree angle,” Edens said, gesturing with his own pinky.
Pahukoa participated in warm-ups but, in a game-time decision, was held out as a precautionary measure. With no practice time this week, and a pinky that is still not 100 percent, Edens decided to go with a slow, cautious approach with his star shooting guard.
“It’s just one of those things. It’s a dicey situation,” Edens said. “We don’t want to aggravate it and make it worse.”
Without Pahukoa, Lake Stevens managed to hang with the Timberwolves throughout the game. Alex Briggs had a team-high 13 points and Kali Long added 12 points and 11 rebounds as the Vikings pulled to within nine points with 2:03 to play.
But that’s as close as Lake Stevens got. Lopez-Flores made two free throws to extend the Timberwolves’ lead to double digits as Jackson closed out the game.
“They really shot it well,” Edens said. “… And they’re going through the injury bug, too. That’s what you go through in a long season.”
Despite the injuries there was still a Pahukoa and a Kingma on the floor. Brooke’s twin sister Brittney — who, along with Brooke has committed to play at Boise State next season — had nine points, four rebounds and four steals. Kelli’s younger sister Brooke made a 3-pointer with less than a second remaining in the third quarter.
Junior Sierra Anderson had nine points for Jackson and freshman Imari Clinton had six points and five rebounds in her fifth-ever varsity start.
“Sierra Anderson has a bigger load to carry (with Kingma hurt) and she’s done a great job,” Boyer said.
The coach also praised Clinton for being able to contribute so much, so soon in her varsity career.
“Clinton is stepping in and handling pressure,” Boyer said. “She plays very poised. She’s mature beyond her years.”
Lake Stevens, which also was without sophomore forward Emily Vandegrift who took an elbow to the head in the same holiday tournament, is hoping some of its younger players can do the same. Edens said that at the beginning of the season the Vikings’ coaches told the players to constantly be ready for important minutes.
“You just never know when your time is to have to be ready,” Edens said. “So many different things can happen.
“Our big thing is to play our best basketball at the end of the year. Which we typically do.”
At Lake Stevens H.S.
Jackson–Brooke Kingma 3, Faithaleen Lopez-Flores 29, Sierra Anderson 9, Mary Charleson 0, Imari Clinton 4, Sierra Hagans 4, Rachel Nies 4, Anna Johnson 3, Martina Mason 0, Emily Boyd 1, Drew Lochnane 3. Lake Stevens–Alex Briggs 13, Mallory Gipson 2, Chelsea Pahls 4, Railey Pedersen 0, Ivy Blackmon 6, Brittney Pahukoa 9, Kali Long 12, Hailey Wilson 2, Cassidy Fifield 0, Kacie Reichert 0. 3-point goals–Kingma 1, Lopez-Flores 7, Anderson 1, Lochnane 1, Briggs 1, Blackmon 1. Records–Jackson 5-1 league, 6-4 overall. Lake Stevens 2-3, 6-5.