By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
MONROE — All Suzanna Ohlsen could think about all day was basketball. She and the Monroe girls basketball team were making their season debut and she couldn’t wait to get on the court.
“I got no sleep last night,” the junior guard said. “I couldn’t concentrate in class. I had a test today and I probably flunked it.”
If her modesty in the classroom is anything like it is on the basketball court, it’s probably a good bet that she passed that test because she and the Bearcats aced their opening exam Wednesday night with a 73-28 non-league win over Bothell.
“It feels awesome after months off,” Ohlsen said. “It feels so good to be back on the court. I had so much energy building up.”
She channeled that energy in front of a robust Monroe crowd to the tune of 26 points, nine steals, and six assists but downplayed her individual achievements.
Both Monroe coach Rodney Walker and Bothell coach Jessika Lee made their coaching debuts with their respective schools.
Walker was certainly happy to see Ohlsen leading the way for Bearcats for the first time.
“She’s pretty good,” Walker said with a smile. “She’s exciting to watch. I coached all summer but you don’t really know until your first game.”
Lee — the third Bothell coach in three years — had a debut that was not quite as happy. Her Cougars had no answer for the Bearcat’s press and turned the ball over 55 times.
“We’re rebuilding,” Lee said. “We haven’t really practiced (against the trapping press) yet. Obviously we’ll be working on that before Roosevelt Friday.”
Katie Anderson led the scoring for Bothell with 10 points.
In the first quarter the teams went back and forth, primarily trading 3-point bombs. Monroe opened the scoring when Alyssa Brazel hit an open trey in the corner and the Bearcats never trailed.
The Cougars’ shooting kept them in the game — they trailed by just one at the end of the first quarter — but succumbed to the Bearcats pressure in the second period. The full-court trapping press seemed to baffle the Cougars, who totaled more turnovers in the second period than shot attempts.
“The first quarter we came out expecting it to be easy Ohlsen said. “In the second quarter we knew what to do and just did it.”
Ohlsen did most of the offensive damage in the first half, piling up 21 points thanks in part to a 3-pointer that rattled around the rim and in with 10.5 seconds to go in the half that completed an 11-0 run.
The halftime break did little to help the Cougars ability to handle the Bearcat defense and Monroe kept up the intensity despite a 41-20 halftime advantage.
“That’s the plan,” Walker said. “That’s how we are going to play.”
The Cougar ballhandlers were overwhelmed and listless passes found the arms of Bearcats cutting through passing lanes. Despite the utter lockdown on the Cougars, Walker still sees room for improvement.
“I really think we can play better defensively.” He said.
Monroe senior guard Sammi Clark came off the bench to score 21 points and grab six steals. Brazel also had 10 points and eight steals for the Bearcats.
After the game Walker basked in the glow of his first victory with friends and family but he knows that there is still plenty of work to do before crowning his girls.
“The Snohomishes and the Lake Stevens’ of the world are still out there,” he said
At Monroe H.S.
Bothell—Anderson 10, Rider 2, Rohrbaugh 3, Campbell 7, Dodson, 2 Dusenberry 4. Monroe—Ohlsen 26, Al. Brazel 10, Johnson 3, Alexander 8, Robertson 4, Clark 21, Wilkins 1. 3-point goals—Ohlsen 3, Brazel 2, Clark 2, Alexander 1, Robertson 1, Anderson 2 Rohrbaugh 1. Records—Bothell 0-1 overall. Monroe 1-0.