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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Buying in’: Rogers senior Emily Peabody scores league-record 51 points in district game

The Greater Spokane League has been one of the premier girls basketball leagues in the state since its inception, producing 18 state champions, twice as many state placers, hundreds of college athletes – including several dozen Division I players – and even more than its fair share of professionals.

The Spokesman-Review even did a series called the “Greatest Spokane League” in 2021 highlighting the rich history of girls basketball in the area.

But to the best of anyone’s knowledge, no girls player in GSL history had scored more than 50 points in a game – though the league does not have an “official” account of the single-game scoring record.

It may now.

On Feb. 13, Rogers senior Emily Peabody scored 51 points in a District 8 2A first-round win over Shadle Park, establishing the benchmark for GSL girls single-game scoring. Peabody scored all but eight points of her team’s total – she made 21 field goals, including four 3-pointers, and went 5 for 8 at the free-throw line.

Peabody set the school mark with 42 points on Jan. 16, then broke that with 45 points on Feb. 9. She totaled 481 points this season, a 24.1 per game average, and scored 57% of her team’s points this season. As a junior – just her second year playing basketball – Peabody averaged 9.7 points per game (194 total) with a season-high 21 points. She equaled or eclipsed that mark 14 times this season.

The previous unofficial GSL record was 50 points, set by West Valley’s Chloe Deharo last season on Jan. 17 against Rogers. Peabody led the Pirates with 21 of the team’s 43 points in that game.

“I was aware of the (school) record. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was because I never had it confirmed,” Peabody said. “I feel like it’s pretty cool, especially coming from Rogers. It’s the one school people probably wouldn’t expect to be able to achieve that. Honestly, from where I’ve come from last year, I think it’s a cool accomplishment.”

Peabody came out for basketball as a sophomore despite having never played the game before. According to Rogers coach Lindsay Hernandez, when asked to get into a layup line Peabody had to ask a teammate what a layup was.

“She found joy in the game and she’s just a naturally great athlete,” Hernandez said. “And such a hard worker at everything she does.”

Hernandez and Peabody agree that she has just scratched the surface on how good she can be.

“The beginning of the year, I struggled a little bit just finding my rhythm,” Peabody said. “I think my first game I only had like 11 points. As I went on, it’s gotten easier (to score). I just started figuring it out – figuring out how to play with my team. Getting more comfortable with the ball in general. I’ve spent a lot of time in the gym.

“I’ve worked hard to get to the point where I can consistently put the ball in the hoop. For me, it’s more, ‘Oh, I have an open shot. I might as well just take it.’ We have other people capable of scoring. But we all have our roles – some focus more on defense, rebounding. But everyone had a role, everyone contributed in their own way.”

Peabody said she appreciates the idea of being a record-holder, but also isn’t the type to dwell on it.

“I haven’t actually thought about it too much. It’s cool and all, but I’m not gonna stop there. I’m always kind of looking for ‘What’s next?’ ”

“She doesn’t go out and think, ‘Oh, I’m trying to score a league record,’ ” Hernandez said. “She just works really, really hard and she ends up with what she ends up with. We thought it was up there, but we’re not out looking for records.”

Even though Rogers won only five games this season, the program marks success where it can – one of which is Peabody’s growth. The Pirates have won a district game three years running, coinciding with Peabody’s participation. The district win at the end of the 2021-22 season was the first girls basketball playoff win in school history.

“Not every team is going to be able to present the opportunities I’ve had this season,” Peabody said. “I’ve played every single position. I started out the year as a post, but I’ve gotten moved to more of a point guard position. It’s cool to see how we’ve developed as a team, too. And how we’ve found success – even though it didn’t always result in wins. It’s a family. We’ve had success in other ways.”

In her 45-point game this season, Hernandez said Peabody was still all about the team. “Forty-five points is a big deal. But in the locker room she’s talking to her teammates, and she said, ‘We win together, and we lose together. Now we need to focus on the things we need to work on as a team for our next game.’ She wasn’t worried about herself, and that’s how she carries herself every single day.

“She’s the most humble athlete I’ve ever coached.”

Peabody attributes that to the program itself.

“It goes back to us being a family,” she said. “Everyone is super close with each other. We all get along. I know a lot of teams where there are groups that divide within the team. But that wasn’t the case with my team. It was an environment where we could grow together. And learn to love the sport in general.”

Peabody credits her coach for fostering that atmosphere.

“(Hernandez) has done a lot to grow the program,” Peabody said. “Rogers hasn’t always had the best track record when it comes to sports in general. But she pushes us in a lot of ways. She makes sure we go to school every day. She checks up on our grades. It’s not just on the court, but off the court, too. She wants us to be the best students and people we can be.”

This was Hernandez’ sixth season with the program. She had 12 players turn out the COVID season of 2021 for the entire program. But the Pirates had seven seniors on the roster this year and were able to field varsity, JV and C squads. It’s a remarkable turnaround in a short amount of time – even if those successes haven’t always made it onto the scoreboard.

“I’ve worked really hard to create a good foundation for these kids – to provide structure for them,” Hernandez said. “I’ve put in goals and expectations – and it’s not always easy for a lot of these kids to live up to that. But I’ve had this core group that started with me when they were freshman. They’ve stuck with it and have bought in with what I want to do at the school. And they’ve spread the word and brought in their friends. It’s been cool to see the growth within the kids and people who they are.”

Similar to the success other programs at Rogers have found this season, it starts with treating the students as people before treating them as athletes.

“Some of these kids don’t have people to care about them,” Hernandez said. “They don’t have people that hold them to expectations. Or teach them the importance of showing up every day – and showing up on time. Or passing their classes. And when I tried to step in and say, ‘This is what we’re doing,’ there was a little bit of push-back. But I kept with it. I knew those values were important to me and it will ultimately help these kids in life. And the kids have finally bought into it.”

There might be no better dividend of buying in than Peabody, who came to the program as a novice and is now fielding college offers.

“There’s a few schools I’m talking to right now,” she said. “We’re just trying to figure out all the logistics of that. I came to the game so late – I haven’t played basketball my whole life. I’ve only played for a few years. I’m just trying to figure it all out now.”