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Elma girls show off tough defense in wins

If defense truly does win championships, the Elma High School girls basketball team showed they are poised for a run at greatness.

The Lady Eagles (9-4, 6-1) held each of their opponents to under 20 points, defeating Hoquiam 58-19 on Jan. 15 and beating Forks 65-14 on Friday.

Against Hoquiam, the game was close after one quarter with Elma leading 12-7, but the Lady Eagles defense helped them outscore the Lady Grizzlies 12-4 in the second quarter and hold Hoquiam to just eight points in the second half. Elma forced 22 turnovers and held Hoquiam to 14 percent shooting from the field.

“Our defense is always key for us,” coach Lisa Johnson said. “It was great team defense tonight. Everyone was doing their part, scrapping, hustling and tipping passes.”

Elma was just as tough defensively against Forks as they held the Lady Spartans to two points in each of the first two quarters. The Lady Eagles employed a full-court press which only allowed Forks two shots in the first three minutes of the game and the stifling defense led to offensive opportunities. In the first quarter, Elma exploded for 27 points.

“We’ve improved every game,” Johnson said. “Our execution on offense and defense is starting to click and the team is starting to come together like we need to.”

Senior guard Brooke Goldsmith provided spark for Elma on offense and defense. The senior has averaged eight steals a game this season and had 14 points against Hoquiam. Goldsmith scored eight points in the first four minutes against Forks and ended the night with 15 points.

“She is just so athletic,” Johnson said. “You can’t fend her off the dribble. She is just explosive and she is phenomenal. She is doing all the things we are asking her to do and doing her job as a captain.”

Sophomore guard Maddie Thompson also added 14 points against Hoquiam and led the Lady Eagles with 16 points against Forks. Sophomore Conley Doyle added 10 points against Hoquiam and junior Bethany Lipska scored eight points against Forks.

With lopsided scores in both games, Johnson was able to turn the game over to her bench in the second half and give some experience to some younger players.

Johnson said she was pleased with the play of the entire team and is excited about how the group is coming together just more than halfway through the season.

“Everyone played and contributed and that is great for confidence for everyone to get minutes,” Johnson said. “They are steadily improving every game as we are heading toward the end of the schedule here and that is where we want to be.”