Shorewood showing signs of progress

  • Charlie Laughtland<br>Enterprise writer
  • Friday, February 29, 2008 10:49am

EDMONDS — For most high school teams, wins and losses tend to take a backseat to learning in the offseason.

Then there’s the Shorewood girls basketball team.

After winning just two of 20 games last winter, the Thunderbirds made sure to savor all of their victories during the Edmonds District Summer League.

Not in the form of over-the-top celebrations. Just some good-natured giddiness that Shorewood coach Jeff Bernhardt feels has been missing from the program as of late.

“The main thing is for these girls to keep playing together and to have fun doing it. The fact that we’re winning and being in some close games is helping,” Bernhardt said.

“As young as we are, any chance you have to learn how to win games is going to help in the future.”

The Thuderbirds won about half of their games at the six-week summer league, which marked Bernhardt’s debut as head coach.

Bernhardt previously coached the freshman and junior varsity teams at Shorewood and was a varsity assistant under former coach Brandon Glasser last season when the Thunderbirds placed ninth in the 10-team Western Conference South Division.

As the program’s fifth head coach in seven seasons, Bernhardt’s objectives this summer are to lay the groundwork for the future and rekindle the enthusiasm amongst the players.

“Learning how to win, learning how to play together and learning to enjoy the game again are our main goals,” Bernhardt said.

In just a matter of weeks, the team has made significant strides in all three areas. Bernhardt attributes the growth to the increased commitment of the players to the summer league.

“The turnout has been more than I expected,” Bernhardt said. “Under the best case scenario, with the amount of girls we’ve had we could have had two teams and everybody could have played equally.”

Shorewood had as many as 14 girls and as few as five show up for games. Having a full bench on occasion presented Bernhardt a welcome challenge.

“I’m finding it difficult to get everyone playing time,” he said. “If they’re going to put forth the effort on a June or July evening to show up, they should be able to play.”

Though the Thunderbirds graduated only two seniors, they will likely continue to field one of the league’s youngest lineups next season.

As a result, Bernhardt is relying on junior Stephanie West to set the tone for her teammates on the court. The 5-foot-11 guard/forward will be a third-year starter.

“I expect her to take a leadership role on the floor and run the team through me,” Bernhardt said. “We’re kind of working together. A lot of responsibility is going to be put on her and I’m going to expect a lot out of her.”

Bernhardt doesn’t foresee any drastic changes to Shorewood’s game plan. The Thunderbirds mostly ran a motion offense and experimented with a few defensive packages during the summer league.

“I don’t know if it’s pretty basketball, but we’re playing to our strength, which is going to be small, quick, athletic hands,” Bernhardt said.

Shorewood attended the Western Washington University team camp last week and will close out its summer schedule with a tournament either the first or second weekend in August.

Bernhardt is encouraged by the progress he’s noticed since accepting the head coaching position.

“We’re taking good baby steps,” he said. “Hopefully by the end of the summer and fall we’ll be ready to hit the ground running when the season starts.”

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