ELMA — A few encouraging signs weren’t plentiful enough to produce a season-opening victory for Elma’s girls.
Dominating the paint, Black Hills led from the outset in a 64-54 victory over the Eagles in a non-league girls basketball opener Tuesday night at Elma.
Returning to a more speed-oriented style this season, the Eagles executed at least part of their game plan Tuesday. With Brooke Goldsmith accounting for 11 steals, their swarming defense forced 32 Black Hills turnovers.
Few of those, however, resulted in the transition opportunities they desired. Elma struggled in the half-court offense, shooting only 32 percent from the field.
The taller Wolves also controlled the offensive glass — a development that didn’t particularly surprise Elma coach Lisa Johnson.
Six-foot-one junior post Shayla Smothers paced the winners with 16 points, while 5-11 Sarah McGee tallied 10 of her 14 points in the first quarter. Both did the bulk of their scoring from close range.
All things considered, however, Johnson wasn’t discouraged with her team’s competitiveness against Black Hills — one of three consecutive 2A foes the Eagles will face before entering Evergreen 1A League play. The Wolves, meanwhile, had a game under the belt, a loss to Class 4A Puyallup on Monday night.
“We had some energy issues, coming out to start the game and starting the second half,” she noted. “(But) for a first game, against a good-quality team, I liked what I saw. It’s going to be good, it’s going to be fine. I’m excited with what I see.”
Slow starts in each half did indeed plague the Eagles. Never in front and tied only at 2-all, they fell into a 14-4 hole with the contest barely four minutes old.
Capitalizing on turnovers, Elma chipped away at the deficit in the second period. Sydney Smythe nailed a 3-point shot from the left wing and Izzy Cristelli sank 2-of-4 free throws in a 28-second span to lift the Eagles to within two, 34-32, with 18 seconds remaining in the first half.
Black Hills guard Sydney Sauls closed out the half with a rebound basket and put down a 3-pointer to trigger a 7-0 burst that opened the third quarter.
Maddie Thompson answered with a trey at the 6:20 mark, but that proved to be Elma’s only field goal of the period as the Wolves took a 52-37 advantage entering the fourth quarter.
The Eagles never came closer than eight in the final stanza.
Doing much of her business on drives, senior floor leader Goldsmith paced the Eagles with 12 points. The 6-foot Cristelli had nine rebounds and six steals to go with her six points.
Elma’s Thompson sisters — Maddie, Aspen and Lauren — combined for 23 points.
The Eagles will remain home Friday to face Centralia.
BH 23 13 16 12 — 64 Elma 14 18 5 17 — 54
Black Hills (64) — S. Sauls 7, T. Sauls 6, Smothers 16, McGee 14, Nurmi 6, Grimm 2, Furu 5, Tarrow 3, Lalau 1, Fugere 4. FG — 23-58 (.397). FT — 17-30.
Elma (54) — M. Thompson 7, Farrar 2, Goldsmith 12, Cristelli 6, Smythe 8, Grant, L. Thompson 7, Hall, 2, A. Thompson 9, Lipska, Cooper 1. FG — 20-63 (.317). FT — 10-21.
JV — Black Hills 58, Elma 28.