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YAKIMA — Ellensburg High School’s girls basketball season began Saturday where last year’s ended.

In their season-opener, the Bulldogs lost 50-36 against White River, which placed fourth in the Class 2A state tournament last year. Ellensburg finished fifth in the state.

Without last season’s starting point guard, Trew Tucker, and starting 6-foot-1 posts Gese Gruber and Alexa Orcutt, this year’s Bulldogs team has a new, smaller look.

“We lost a lot of size when we lost Gese and Alexa, so we’re asking girls like Madison Moffat (5-9), Kalli Fahey (5-10), Karly Malcolm (5-9) to guard real big girls. And today they were really big girls,” Ellensburg head coach Kerri Fahey said with a chuckle. 

White River was led by 6-1 sophomore Kendall Bird, an all-tournament selection at state last season. Bird scored an efficient 18 points, despite shooting just four times in the second and third quarters combined. 

“I told the girls that they should come away from this game with a lot of confidence,” Fahey said. “We were right there with White River for three quarters. This was a real test for us.”

Karly Malcolm led the Bulldogs with 17 points, scoring 10 in the second half. Fellow senior Hannah Gibson scored all eight of her points in the first half, and Moffat chipped in with seven points. 

“One thing I know about this team is they’re never going to give up,” Fahey said. “They’re going to be relentless from the whistle to the sounding horn at the end.”

The Bulldogs played their opener without starting point guard Lexie Bland, one of the more aggressive players on the team. Fahey said Bland’s doctor said she will most likely be ready to play on Dec. 15, and ready to face Othello on the road Dec. 19. 

Five of Ellensburg’s nine players Saturday made their varsity debuts. 

“I still feel like we battled and it was a good gauge for us to be able to watch gamefilm and say, ‘What can we do better when we’re playing against a team that has the tremendous size that a White River does?’ I really feel good about the game,” Fahey said. 

Ellensburg led early in the game, but White River scored four points in the final three seconds of the first half after the Lady Hornets converted a layup after a stolen Ellensburg inbounds pass. White River led 28-19 at the break.

Malcolm cut the Lady Hornets’ lead to four with a layup in the third quarter, then hit a 3-pointer on the next possession, bringing the deficit to 36-33 after three quarters. 

White River went on a 12-2 run to begin the fourth quarter, securing the game after Ellensburg scored just three points in the final period. 

“The good thing for us is the CWAC isn’t a league that has a ton of size,” Fahey said. “Selah does this year, definitely, but overall, we probably matchup better in the CWAC this year because we are a little bit smaller and quicker.”

Kittitas

Kittitas High School’s girls basketball team beat Royal on the road Saturday, winning 46-34.

Annie Stickney finished with a double-double, scoring 10 points and recording 10 steals. Rachel Baker scored 20 points and Bri Shipley chipped in with eight points and 10 rebounds. 

Boys

Kittitas’ boys basketball team lost 49-24 against Royal Saturday night. 

The Coyotes were led by Chandler Sabin, who scored nine points. Bryan Arnold and Jadon Meador chipped in with five apiece.

The Coyotes play Wahluke on the road Tuesday. The girls tip off at 6 p.m., the boys begin at 7:30.

Wrestling

Kittitas’ wrestling team finished fifth out of 13 schools at the Davenport Invitational on Saturday.

Paco Marin was the Coyotes’ only individual winner, placing first in the invite for his fourth straight season.

Kittitas finished with four fourth-place finishes.

“It was not our best performance,” Kittitas head coach Lance Hyatt said. “The good news is it’s the start of the season.”

Freeman and Reardan placed first and second, respectively in the invite.

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