Young Lady Rams humbled by top-ranked Cleveland

// Wilson sits atop Narrows 3A, aims to learn from loss

Wilson has become very familiar with Cleveland over the past couple years. And while the Rams are breaking in several young players, the Eagles are a veteran squad that returns several starters from their state champion squad last year. Cleveland used that experience to overwhelm the Lady Rams from the second quarter on, and cruised to a 70-37 win over Wilson on Jan. 20 at the King Holiday Hoopfest at Bellevue College.

“I think at times we played very composed, as if we were a veteran group,” said Wilson head coach Michelle Birge. “There were other times where you saw our (youth) surface up on the court, and we let the emotions control our bodies. I think this will obviously open our eyes to a lot of things.”

Wilson fell behind 4-0 just 10 seconds into the game on a steal and layup by Myzhanique Ladd. But the Rams calmly responded with an 11-0 run, as freshman point guard Josie Matz gained a 5-4 lead with a three-point play, and sophomore Kiara Knox fed Desiree Ayler for a layup to make it 11-4 with 3:20 left in the first quarter. Knox finished with a team-high 14 points for Wilson, while Matz added 11 points and showcased her playmaking ability in driving to the hoop.

“She’s an amazing young lady,” Birge said of Matz. “She’s an introvert trying to play an extrovert position. She hasn’t yet found her voice to be our floor general, but she does some amazing things on the court for us.”

But Cleveland quickly responded, as Joyce Harrell capped a quick 10-2 run with a layup with 5:35 to go in the second quarter. The Eagles outscored the Rams 26-8 in the second quarter to take control, as senior Makayla Roper – who scored a game-high 21 points for Cleveland – hit back-to-back three-pointers late in the second quarter to make it 32-18.

“It was the glass that killed us tonight, as well as open three-point shooters in the corner,” Birge said. “We’ve got to get better at those. Nothing against Cleveland…but I thought we can compete more than what the score showed.”

Junior forward Violet Morrow finished with seven points and a team-high 13 rebounds for Wilson, which dropped to 11-3 overall on the season. But the Rams – who still sit in first in the Narrows 3A with a 6-0 mark – still have high hopes for the postseason.

“Come state time, I hope that we’re right down there in that mix,” Birge said. “This will obviously get us ready for that.”

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