LEAVENWORTH — Every top girls basketball team in the Caribou Trail League has one or two star players, or players who at the very least possess an abundance of athletic talent.
Brewster, of course, is no exception; junior guard Chandler Smith is certainly a star, perhaps even the league’s best player. And while Smith may be the main reason why the Bears entered their Friday road game against Cascade with an unblemished record (the Bears smashed the Kodiaks 74-45 to move to 16-0) and a No. 2 ranking in the latest Associated Press 1A state poll, she certainly isn’t the only reason.
Brewster’s depth separates it from the rest of its league competitors. Senior point guard Becky Mae Taylor hit the 1,000 point mark for her prep career midway through her junior season. Brette Boesel earned all-league honors last year. Jessie Hammons is a quality role player. Freshman Markie Miller is seemingly improving every time out.
And then there’s Monica Landdeck.
Boesel wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from the 5-foot-8 wing player at the start of the season; Landdeck played her first two years of prep basketball at Issaquah High School (she averaged 8.3 points per game last year for the Eagles). But Landdeck quickly proved to be one of Brewster’s most indispensable players, someone who is capable of being a go-to scorer even when Smith is on the court.
Landdeck, who sat out the Bears’ last two games with a strained hip flexor, led Brewster with 20 points against the Kodiaks. She’s now averaging 17.8 points per game for the season.
“The transition (to Brewster) has been amazing,” Landdeck said. “I love the players, I love the coach, and I love to win, so this has been a good place for me. It’s been really fun.
“Our chemistry has worked well for us. Chandler is a good person to look up to because she’s so talented, but things have worked out well because we each have our own things that we can do (on the court), and it all clicks together.”
On Friday, Landdeck showed a nice all-around game. She scored on transition layups (she often was the first Brewster player down the floor after a Bears rebound or Kodiaks turnover). Several times she got behind Cascade’s zone defense for easy short baskets. She also hit three 3-pointers and played solid defense.
“She brings a certain toughness (to the team),” Brewster coach Roger Boesel said. “She runs the floor well, cuts well, is a good defender, and has basketball smarts. (Coming off the injury), she felt that she could play, and she played most of the game. She’s a warrior. If she thinks she can go, she’s going to go.”
Brewster has been seriously challenged only twice this season — a 69-66 win over defending 2B state champion Reardan on Dec. 7 and a 67-62 win over defending 1A state champion Okanogan on Jan. 3.
Landdeck said that while the team does think about its winning streak, it strives to keep things in proper perspective.
“We think that we’re going to play close games,” she said. “We prepare to lose, even though we’re confident that we’re going to win. I think we can still improve on some stuff. We’re not good with our free throws, and we can improve our rebounding. We need to practice a lot, mainly our defense, because we know that defense wins games.”
The Bears’ defense certainly played a major part in their Friday win. Cascade shot just 24 percent from the field.
The Kodiaks (11-4, 5-4 CTL) entered the contest with an abundance of confidence; they almost beat state-ranked Okanogan on Jan. 11, and beat state-ranked Chelan on Tuesday. Cascade is certainly still firmly entrenched as a solid playoff team, but the Kodiaks learned some lessons on Friday.
“The shooting percentage was the difference in the game,” said Cascade coach Todd Fraker, noting that Brewster shot 50 percent from the field. “It wasn’t an effort thing; we played as hard as they did. But they are a good defensive team, and they got 25 points off turnovers. There’s no defense for that.
“(After the game) I told the girls that there’s nothing that we can do now about this one, and we have to set our sights on moving forward. We’ve got five games to finish up the (regular) season, and we have to take them one at a time and have a plan and execute that plan and beat as many of those five teams as we can.”
Brewster boys 53, Cascade 38
When Tim Taylor returned to coach the Brewster boys basketball team this season, he knew that he’d be working with an extremely young squad; the Bears’ roster features five freshmen and one sophomore.
But Taylor also knew that the young core, centered around three of the freshmen (starters Timbo Taylor and Josh Hammons and super-sub Parker Landdeck) had great potential, and not just potential to win two and three years from now. This team is winning now.
The Bears ran their CTL record to 7-3 (12-4 overall) with a blowout win over Cascade, and sit in fourth place in the competitive CTL, with a playoff berth all but wrapped up.
“The (youngsters) have played a lot of ball together (before this year),” Tim Taylor said. “Being on a team with young kids sometimes disgruntles older players, but our young kids have fit in nicely. They like playing with each other.”
Timbo Taylor (who led all scorers with 22 points Friday), Landdeck and Hammons certainly don’t look like freshmen on the court; it’s obvious that along with athleticism, they possess a high level of basketball intelligence and levelheadedness that usually only manifests itself in upperclassmen.
“They’ve become more calm as the season has gone on, and that just comes with playing at the varsity level,” Taylor said. “They’re taking care of the ball and not panicking.”
Easton Driessen, who tallied 18 points and five assists Friday, is the team’s veteran leader as a junior.
“Most of the time, I don’t see them as young,” Driessen said. “They play as hard as I do. I don’t think of us as a young team; I just think of us as a team. We try to push each other. Parker is really coming along; he’s starting to hit some 3s. Our big guys are doing well. I knew Timbo would be good at the start of the year. He and I keep beating up on each other (in practice).”
Cascade (4-11, 2-7) still has a decent chance to earn a spot in a regional play-in game; its chances to do so would be greatly enhanced with a win over Tonasket (7-9, 2-8) on Jan. 26.
The Kodiaks shot 27 percent from the field Friday, a figure that they obviously must increase if they want to have a chance at postseason play.
“(Brewster) is the best defensive team that we’ve played so far,” said Cascade coach Micah Rieke. “They’re so physical, and they made us work for every shot. Every time we came off a screen, they were there. I told our kids at halftime, ‘I want us to play the kind of defense that they’re playing.’ I don’t know if we just don’t match up with (Brewster) well, but against every other team (we’ve lost to), I felt like we could’ve gotten back into the game. Not against these guys.”