By David Heiling
The Empire Press
BREWSTER — Players and coaches around North Central Washington better be aware of the Waterville/Mansfield girls basketball team.
The Shockers went up to play previously undefeated Brewster on Jan. 9, and handed the Bears their first loss of the season by a final score of 41-38. It is the biggest win of the year for coach Kieth Finkbeiner’s team.
Waterville/Mansfield once again held a solid offensive team in the upper-30s, and Finkbeiner said stout defense is what the Shockers have come to hang their collective hat on.
“This was a good win for us tonight,” Finkbeiner said. “The thing we’ve been able to do consistently is hold teams to a pretty low score, and eventually I think if you continue to do that you give yourself a chance to win. I think it’s about defense and committing to defense.”
Justine Clements and Sarah Mullen started hot for Waterville/Mansfield, drilling a couple 3-pointers each in the first half to give the Shockers an 8-point advantage heading into the locker rooms for halftime. Brewster outscored Waterville/Mansfield in both the third and the fourth quarter, but the Shockers did enough on defense to hold off the Bears’ comeback attempt.
Offense has been somewhat of a struggle for Waterville/Mansfield this year. Playing fundamentally sound and intense defense can be tiring. When the Shockers have been able to score the ball early, however, the recipe for success becomes easier.
“It’s important to have the belief to that you can put the ball in the basket,” Finkbeiner said. “Tonight we did just that.”
Brewster shot just 7-of-24 from the free throw line on the evening, and Bears coach Roger Boesel gave Waterville/Mansfield some kudos on its performance.
“They played harder than us, plain and simple,” Boesel said after the game. “We didn’t come to play and they beat us.”
After its win over Brewster, Waterville/Mansfield finds itself in the thick of a Central Washington 2B League title race including the aforementioned Bears, Liberty Bell, and Tonasket. Only Brewster has a better overall record than the Shockers. Clements led the Shockers with 12 points.