Despite all the banners that hang on the walls inside the Chimacum High School gym, there is one sport that isn’t represented.
That will soon change.
The Chimacum girls basketball team won the first league championship in school history Jan. 11 with a 55-35 triumph over the visiting Klahowya Eagles.
Cowboys sophomore Mia McNair scored 16 points and senior Jada Trafton added 12 for Chimacum (7-5, 4-0 1A Olympic League), which already has taken the season series against both Klahowya and Port Townsend. League play continues through Jan. 31.
“It’s kind of surreal, but it does feel good,” Chimacum senior Maddie Dowling said. “This is all that ever mattered.”
It’s been a long road for Dowling, who tore an anterior-cruciate ligament in her knee last spring and wasn’t sure she would be ready to play basketball after surgery and physical therapy. Senior Delana Horner also has dealt with an injury — a torn muscle — and sickness that has kept her away from the court.
Two other seniors, Grace Yaley and Hunter Haralson, have played with Dowling and Horner in coach Trevor Huntingford’s system since they were part of the junior varsity program as eighth-graders.
They needed special waivers from the WIAA to participate five years ago.
Huntingford said it came down to numbers.
“There were four girls left in the program when I took over,” he said of the 2012-13 season. “We didn’t have JV. Plus, our schedule was brutal. These girls were taking 40-point beatings regularly.”
Dowling and Horner said Huntingford recruited them from the middle school side of Chimacum Schools along with Yaley and Haralson, telling them they were going to be the foundation for the program.
At the time, Horner wasn’t so sure.
“I kept on telling him, ‘No,’” Horner said. “I’m not the best player, to be honest.”
Horner finally caved in, and she laughed as she remembered agreeing to play while she was at the Chimacum Arts and Crafts Fair that December.
It was a rough start for the girls, who were all 13 and playing against opponents who were up to four years older.
“We never really felt like we were a horrible team,” Dowling said. “We just knew we were young.”
All that experience on the court the past five years and the addition of the speedy Trafton and sharp-shooting McNair, among others, has helped Chimacum reach two of its three goals this season.
The Cowboys won the season series with Port Townsend and earned the traveling Janelle Perillo trophy. Then they won the league title. Next will be to make the postseason next month and see how they match up.
“I’m happy for these girls and all the hard work and time they put in,” Huntingford said.
Defense propels win
Chimacum leads the league in steals and turnovers, mostly due to the full-court pressure it puts on opponents. Huntingford said this is the fifth straight year the Cowboys have led the league in both categories.
Chimacum jumped out to a 25-10 lead at halftime against Klahowya with a 17-6 burst in the second quarter. McNair scored five in the period, and Trafton and Dowling each added four. Dowling’s 3-pointer from the left wing made it 21-8 with 1:54 left in the half.
The Eagles (5-7, 1-2) scored the first two baskets in the third quarter to pull within 11, but Chimacum slowly pulled away.
“I have no words,” Horner said. “I was mad in December when I looked up and saw there wasn’t a banner for girls basketball. I feel at ease now. To be part of the team that finally won a league championship, that means a lot.”
Klahowya 49, Chimacum 34
The Eagles jumped to an early lead and three players scored in double figures to beat Chimacum on Jan. 11.
Sophomore Drew Kraft tallied 11 points, senior John Hartford had 10 and junior Landon Betzing added 10 for first-place Klahowya (7-5, 3-0).
The Eagles scored 13 unanswered points after Chimacum senior Jonah Diehl scored the game’s first basket. Diehl scored all six of his points in the first half, while junior Henry Brebberman tallied five of his team-high nine points after the break for the Cowboys (0-10, 0-4).
Chimacum coach Mark Bennett said he’s been short on staff this season but welcomed assistant Dave Porter to the team Jan. 7.
The Cowboys outscored Klahowya 16-14 in the second half and cut the deficit to single digits at the start of the fourth quarter, when Brebberman drained an 18-footer from the wing and freshman Clayton Smith dropped in a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 41-32.
That forced a Klahowya timeout, and the Eagles answered by scoring the next six points to all but put the game away.
“The guys are finally starting to come together, and they’re playing some pretty good basketball,” Bennett said.