MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — The Stanwood girls basketball team places a strong emphasis on converting turnovers into transition points.
The Spartans used that formula Friday night to continue their red-hot start to the season.
Stanwood limited Kamiak to 13 first-half points and remained unbeaten with a 58-46 non-league win over the Knights in the Mountlake Terrace Holiday Tournament finale at Mountlake Terrace High School.
The Spartans (10-0) forced 22 Kamiak turnovers, including 16 in the first half, and parlayed many of them into fast-break buckets on the other end.
“We are very defensively oriented and we get a lot of our points off that,” Stanwood coach Dennis Kloke said. “That’s what we do. Not counting this game, we’re getting 52 percent of our scoring off our defense.”
Junior guard Ashley Alter led Stanwood with a team-high 17 points, including eight in the third quarter. Jillian Heichel added 12 points, Kaitlin Larson scored 11 and Madison Chisman had nine for the Spartans.
“We’re a fast team and we get up the court,” Alter said. “We’re just so good working together. We see each other and our point guards know exactly where we are and pass it right to us. It’s really fun.”
Stanwood set the tone early with its defense, holding Kamiak scoreless for a lengthy stretch in the first quarter while scoring 11 straight points to build a 13-3 lead. The Spartans then converted several turnovers into baskets early in the second quarter, scoring 10 straight points over a three-minute span to push the margin to 23-7.
“I think we just read the offense, got in the gaps, stopped their drives and stopped their kickouts for 3s,” Alter said of her team’s defense. “That was one thing (our) coach really emphasized — that we need to watch their shooters outside.”
Kamiak (5-3) stormed out of the halftime break with eight points in the first two minutes of the third quarter, but Alter equaled the Knights during that stretch with eight points of her own — including a pair of 3-pointers — to protect Stanwood’s double-digit lead.
Kamiak refused to back down, chipping the second-half deficit to nine points on several occasions. Senior Kate Huguenin helped the Knights hang around, scoring 13 of her game-high 19 points in the second half.
But Kamiak couldn’t overcome its first-half offensive struggles.
“I think their defense was good, but we didn’t do what we normally do,” Kamiak coach Brian Norman said. “We don’t (normally) turn the ball over, and we were just a little bit out of sorts, a little helter-skelter.”
Stanwood has been able to achieve its 10-0 start despite missing its lone senior and one of its leading scorers, Ashley Bierer, for much of the season. Bierer, who suffered an ankle injury earlier this month, could return as soon as next week when conference play resumes.
“We’re going to be really excited when we get (her) back,” Kloke said, “because that’s the glue that holds everything together.”