The Lake City High School girls basketball team picked a rough week to slump last season – during the district tournament.
The Timberwolves, who won the regular-season crown via tiebreaker over Coeur d’Alene, lost to the Vikings 58-36 at home in the title game, then were eliminated by third-seeded Post Falls in the second-place game, forcing them to watch state from home.
This season, it’s all about trying to redeem themselves.
“I think what we’re trying to do is get to state – if there is one,” senior post Brooklyn Rewers said on Tuesday. “We have a lot of high expectations for winning the league, and districts. So we’re just building up to that.”
Rewers is the reigning Inland Empire League co-MVP, and is closing in on 1,000 career points with 886 two games into this season. She originally committed to Duke, but after a coaching change at the ACC school, she decided to change her commitment to Michigan State.
“I think everything happens for a reason,” she said of the college change. “Duke, when it came up, it was an amazing opportunity. Stuff just changed. Michigan State was welcoming to me after that happened. … I’m just really excited. The coaches there are amazing.”
Brooklyn’s older sister Lauren is a Michigan State graduate student averaging 10 minute per game with the Spartans after transferring from Hawaii. The two won’t play together, but Brooklyn relied on her sister for guidance while making her decision.
“The whole school and basketball program are really strong and the family environment there is really great,” Brooklyn Rewers said. “It really pulled my attraction to them.”
Lake City coach James Anderson is enthused about his squad despite the difficulties of dealing with all the COVID-19 protocols.
“I think we have a chance to be really good in the end,” he said. “It’s a step-by-step process and we’ve got a lot of work to do still, but we’re shooting to be all dialed in by January and February. Just trying to get this rolling, learning to play off of Brooklyn a little bit and keep this thing going smooth and hopefully we finish strong.”
He said this year has been the most challenging in his coaching career.
“It goes back to the summer,” he said. “We weren’t really ever able to play together in games and evaluate what was going to be best for our team.”
“We’re all trying to just find ways to work around it, make up for it,” Rewers said. “Obviously, team dinners and stuff like that is not the best option. We just try to communicate as much as we can and keep our bond close.”
“We’ve only had about three or four practices where we’ve had all our kids,” Anderson said. “It’s been a huge challenge to get that continuity going and get everybody on the same page. It’s different than anything we’ve ever dealt with.”
Yet, he has a pretty good place to start with his 6-foot-4 security blanket.
“It’s a huge luxury,” he said of Rewers, who blocked 3.8 shots per game last season. “As far as defense goes, it allows us to do a lot of different things because she’s so good at protecting the basket.
“Anytime you have somebody in the paint that’s blocking that many shots, altering that many shots, it’s a nice luxury to have.”
Rewers has always stood out for her height, so adding the Big Ten commitment doesn’t alter the pressure she faces on a nightly basis – much.
“It’s always been there, so not much of a difference,” Rewers said.
But she’s doing something out of the ordinary.
“Not that many kids have done that, I guess,” she said. “It’s showing people, like, ‘Hey, there’s good players in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.’ I think it’s also helping more people in the future (get noticed). … I think it’s kind of fun to be the first few or whatever. But I don’t think about it that often. It does separate you more than if you lived in a bigger city or state.”
Anderson said not to let Rewers’ modesty fool you.
“Everybody has our game marked on their calendar,” he said. “They want to play the girl going to play at Michigan State.
“All the game plans are built around her. … Any time you have that type of player that gets that kind of recognition from a game-planning standpoint, there’s no question that she’s a target. It’s challenging on our end to make sure we’re utilizing her the right way and getting her the shots she needs.”
Rewers won’t have to go it alone.
Junior Kendall Pickford is the returning starting point guard, and she averaged a school-record 5.5 assists last year.
“We look to her for some playmaking and decision-making,” Anderson said of Pickford. “She benefits from having Brooklyn, and Brooklyn benefits from having her. We expect her to have another great season and be a little bit more aggressive offensively on her own stuff, trying to get a little more scoring on her end.”
The Timberwolves have two other returning senior starters in guard Jaya Miller and 6-foot Brenna Hawkins.
They’ll get some help from the outside from a newcomer. Freshman Sophia Zufelt already has an 18-point game this season on 6-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc.
“She’s instantly provided some of that shooting, some of the void since (Aubrey) Avery left,” Anderson said of Zufelt. “She’s off to a great start and hopefully she continues to grow. As a young player, she just gets more experience every minute she’s on the floor.”
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