EHS vs EVHS girls

Ellensburg High School’s Jeff Whitney speaks to his team after a timeout against East Valley High School.

It’s been preached countless times by Ellensburg High School girls coach Jeff Whitney, and his team is well aware.

As the Bulldogs continue to fly through the season with win after win, the target on their back enlarges.

But Ellensburg hasn’t shown any blips, especially with its fourth game in the past six days that were all against the next four best teams trailing Ellensburg in the CWAC standings (Prosser, Grandview, East Valley, Selah).

“We’ve been slowly talking about taking some steps,” Whitney said. “And I think the group of girls are doing it all. I’m just proud of them in their effort. … Everybody works hard every day, so that’s what makes us a good basketball team.”

The Bulldogs came into Thursday’s matchup three games ahead of Prosser (second) in the standings, and Ellensburg cruised by the Mustangs 75-52 at EHS gymnasium.

Ellensburg (14-0, 12-0 CWAC) capped its toughest stretch of games to commence the second half of the season with six games remaining on the regular season slate.

The Bulldogs were led by sophomore Dylan Philip who scored 20 points. Senior Brinley Hagemeier added 14 points and six assists. Sophomores Katie Blume and Kaelynn Smith each notched seven points, as did freshman Olivia Anderson (all in the fourth quarter).

“We were just talking about our fourth game in (six days). And against pretty much the upper echelon in the league,” Whitney said. “I was real proud of the way we came out.”

The first time these two teams met on Dec. 13, it was Ellensburg’s slimmest win, 49-45. It was a statement for the Bulldogs to beat Prosser for the second time, especially by a 23-point margin.

“It just felt really good bringing it back because last game it was pretty close and just showing them that we’re the better team,” said junior Kami Hartrick, who finished with six points.

Prosser sophomore Halle Wright dominated the first half with 16 of the team’s 27 points as the Bulldogs led 35-27. Ellensburg had difficulty keeping her away from the free-throw line as she made 8-of-9, 10-of-13 for the game.

The Bulldogs made it an emphasis to shut her down in the final two quarters. And they did, limiting her to seven points before she left the game midway through the fourth quarter because of a wrist injury. At that point, Ellensburg led 60-44.

“That second half, our whole thing is we’re fronting her, have someone behind her so that every time she turned, there was going to be two people in her vicinity,” Whitney said. “And we wanted to stop fouling her because she can hit free throws.”

Fast starts were key for the Bulldogs to begin both the first and third quarters.

Ellensburg jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead with a basket down low from Hartrick and then back to back 3s from Philip and Hagemeier, both assisted by Smith.

Then to commence the third quarter, the Bulldogs went on a 7-0 spurt with five of those points coming from Philip, 44-27. Ellensburg forced three turnovers and all resulted in points.

These early runs are becoming a tradition of late, something that lacked earlier in the season.

“They’re huge,” Whitney said. “Because at the beginning of the year we struggled with that. … Those fast starts help us, again, get more of our bench going, save some legs, we can be fresh every game, especially when you play high power games I seven days.”


Ellensburg heads to Wapato on Friday, Jan. 24.


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