Strong finish has Pilots hopeful for next year

By The Beacon | March 20, 2013 9:00pm

Despite a close loss to Saint Mary’s in the quarterfinals of the WCC Tournament, the Pilots see this season of growing and learning as a success. With the entire team returning next year, hopes are hi

Head Coach Jim Sollars quickly coaches sophomore Jasmine Byrd during a timeout against San Francisco on Feb. 14. (Beau Borek | THE BEACON)

By Taylor Tobin, Staff Writer

The women's basketball season did not end in a championship title, as they lost to St. Mary's in the quarterfinals of the WCC Championships 54-51. But the team took away good memories from the tournament.

"They played with a great deal of intensity and worked really hard to execute the plan. I can't fault their effort at all," Head Coach Jim Sollars said. "That was true for most of the season. Very rarely did we have a letdown that way. I was very proud of that."

Junior captain Amy Pupa is also proud of her team, despite their lack of some final play and shot executions that could have won their game against St. Mary's.

"I've never played on a team that wanted it so bad, and I think that is sometimes hard to find in a group," Pupa said. "We only lost by three [to St. Mary's]. I think we deserved that game."

Sophomore guard Kari Luttinen enjoyed beating Santa Clara 70-64 in the first round of the tournament and getting to play with her team in a championship environment. Luttinen knows they have a lot to look forward to next season.

"Next year we're going to be looking really good," Luttinen said. "I'm going to miss playing with my team every day, but the fact that we're all returning next year makes everyone that much more excited to get back on the court."

This season,+ Luttinen averaged 12.5 points per game, freshman forward Annika Holopainen made the 2012-13 West Coast Conference Women's Basketball All-Freshman Team and shot a total of 297 points for the Pilots, and sophomore guard Jasmine Wooton averaged 9.2 points per game with a total shot percentage of .352.

On March 25, after a two-week break, the Pilots will be back in the gym, lifting weights and going to open gyms.

"We will be doing a lot of individual skill work," Pupa said. "I think we will figure out what we need to work on and our strengths and weaknesses."

One recruit will join the team next season, 2011-12 Alaska Girls Player of the Year Hannah Mattson.

Mattson was unable to play most of her senior year season due to a hand injury. In her junior season at West Valley High School in Fairbanks, Alaska she scored a total of 365 points, averaging 15.2 per game.

"Were really excited to have her. She is going to be a really good addition to our program and will make us even stronger next year," Luttinen said.

(Beau Borek | THE BEACON)

(Beau Borek | THE BEACON)