The response from the girls was nearly as jubilant as winning the lottery.
A young girls basketball team started playing together as third graders in a sport they loved. Those former third graders, now age 13, stayed on court for four years as a team. The group, Tahoma Bears Gold 7thGrade Girls Team, can also now call themselves “State Champions.”
With a long season lasting from October 2017 to March 2018, this team corralled an undefeated record of 17-0 in league play. It was a duplicate of last year’s success where as sixth graders they beat Ferndale in the state title game. Last year’s triumph led to State Championship in the GOLD division. What were the chances they could repeat that success a second year in a row?
Past expressions of joy could not top the mayhem, called emotion, at this year’s state competition. A closely battled 4thgame had both the Tahoma girls and the Richland team committed to earning “state” title. The game was tied 51-51. Just eight seconds remained on the clock. Shining like a diamond in offensive play, Tahoma seventh grader Hope Hassmann made a break down the court. She threw up a shot, the buzzer sounded, and the team earned this year’s State Championship, 53-51.
“Our kids enjoy the game – we try to foster an atmosphere of fun while still being very competitive,” said Coach Scott Hassmann. “The kids also spend a lot of time shooting the basketball – our goal is that all 10 of our kids will be high level shooters by the time they reach high school.”
“Our main strength was our ability to force turnovers and then fast-break off of those turnovers,” he said. “We played a style of controlled chaos at times and the chaos was not very controlled!” He continued, “I would say our girls’ ability to play with maximum effort for 32 minutes was the difference in a lot of games on the way to championship. Our chant-out of every time-out was defense because playing great defense was the key to our success.” Hassmann and Matt Peltzer are coaches who have led the team since the girls were in third grade.
“Our biggest improvement this year came from our two post kids – Mylie Roberts and Abby Knutson. Both play post and their ability to rebound and play defense at a high level allowed us to become a much more complete team,” said the coach.
Washington State basketball tournament for both boys and girls is in Spokane. Tahoma Bears Girls Team “fought hard in games against very tough competition,” according to the coach. They scored at the top against league winners from Issaquah, Stanwood, Wenatchee and “a very tough Richland team” for the state title.
The girls’ team is part of Tahoma Basketball Association, a competitive basketball program for players who will attend Tahoma High School. They are sometimes known as a “feeder” team. This was the first year that Tahoma Basketball Association had five teams for girls: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6thand 7thgrades. All of the teams got accolades for success this year. The 4thgrade team played in league semi-finals, the 6thgrade team won the league tournament and the 7thgraders won both the league and state titles.