LYNNWOOD — Meadowdale coach Caitlyn Houvener wasn’t sure what type of season opener to expect from sophomore guard Lilly Williams, who was coming off a five-month rehab following an offseason knee injury.
“She hasn’t been practicing 100 percent every single day, so I wasn’t sure how her conditioning would affect her shooting,” Houvener said.
The Mavs coach didn’t have to wait long for an answer.
Williams scored 12 of her game-high 24 points in the first quarter and knocked down six 3s to help Meadowdale earn a 55-30 season-opening nonleague win against Everett on Tuesday at Meadowdale High School.
Williams, who Houvener is forecasting a larger scoring and leadership role for in her second varsity season, exploited Everett’s zone defense with her sharpshooting and proved her knee injury is well in the past.
“It was hard getting back in condition after being out,” Williams admitted. “It feels really good to play. It’s the first time in a long time, and to start off with a bang, it was good. This year we are a lot more hungry for it. We just know we want to go win. We are tired of taking Ls.”
The win offered an early momentum boost for a Meadowdale team coming off a four-win season that included two losses to the Seagulls.
And with Williams’ strong play coupled with a deeper rotation and the possible emergence of promising 6-foot freshman forward Fatoumata Jaiteh, there is plenty of reason for optimism.
Jaiteh, who Houvener called “raw” but said has “a lot of talent,” finished with six points, 10 rebounds, four assists, five steals and three blocks. Alicia Morrison added 10 points for the Mavs.
Meadowdale took control from the start with its stingy 2-3 zone and full-court press. Everett struggled handling the pressure, and the Mavs raced out to a 10-5 lead before going on a 13-3 run powered by eight points from Williams.
The Mavericks led 23-11 after the first quarter, but cold second-quarter shooting allowed Everett to close the deficit to 26-21 after Seagulls leading scorer Kate Pohland converted three straight free throws with 1:36 to play in the half.
Pohland, one of just two seniors on either team’s varsity roster, scored 18 of Everett’s 30 points and was the only Seagull to score during the second half. She also pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds to go with three steals.
Meadowdale ended the half on a 5-0 run, led 32-21 and continued to pull away after the break.
The Mavs’ defense limited Everett to one third-quarter field goal, and two 3-pointers from Williams helped Meadowdale take a 43-27 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
“I was a little worried about what our offense might look like, because our practices have been so defense focused,” Houvener said. “I think we are going to turn teams over this year by putting on more pressure. I have more of a bench, so I can force girls to work hard for longer and push the tempo.”