Mount Baker’s Tiffany Ramirez knew before the game her head coaching debut might not result in a victory, so she wasn’t frustrated when the young and inexperienced Mounties fell to visiting Seattle Academy, 66-30, on Friday, Dec. 3.
Instead, she chose to focus on the positives: Having a learning experience and enjoying a fun experience.
“When only three of them have played together (on varsity), we knew this would be the chaos we’d run into,” said Ramirez of the Mounties’ offensive struggles. “But to build a program, you need to have kids come out. That’s why we try to have fun.”
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The team’s leaders, senior Taite Reardon and junior Maddy Barter, were just as positive.
“I’m so proud of where we are,” said Reardon, who has played for three head coaches the past three years. “We’ve made a lot of progress, and I’m having a blast.”
“We have fun off the court,” said Barter. “We love each other. We’ve got chemistry off the court. Now we just have to find that chemistry on the court. It just takes time.”
Both teams started slow on Friday and the Mounties’ defense kept them within six midway through the second quarter. But the Cardinals’ pressure defense took its toll as they took a 19-point lead into halftime and never let Mount Baker back in the game.
“This will give them a better perspective,” Ramirez said of the lessons learned. “Now they see the things we’ve been trying to teach them in practice. It was a reality check. And they did better in the second half.”
Foul trouble kept Reardon and the team’s other main scorer, sophomore guard Lauren Valum, on the bench much of the game. That allowed Ramirez to give her bench a lot of playing time, but it also put all the scoring load on Barter, an all-Whatcom Hoops first-teamer last season.
The 5-foot-8 guard didn’t disappoint, consistently going to the hoop against the taller Cardinals and finishing with 19 points. Valum added 6 points, all in the first half, but no other Mountie had more than two points.
“They have to know it’ll take a while for the chemistry to come together,” said Barter. “The first few games you’re just getting the jitters out. But we’ll figure it out. Everybody is encouraging to each other and lifting each other up.”
The Mounties (0-1) will get another non-league challenge when they host Class 3A Mountain View on Saturday, Dec. 4.
It will also be another opportunity to enjoy growing together as a team, according to Reardon.
“As a senior, I get to watch them get better,” she said. “It will be a good year if everyone gets better in some way. Basketball isn’t just about the game. It’s about becoming a better person.”