Rather than lament, wondering about what might have been, a banged up Hoquiam Grizzlies’ girls basketball team is doing their best with what they’ve got left.

Ocean shores animal hospital logoThree starters are out with injuries. Nicole Hidalgo, a 5-foot-10 senior who would have averaged double digits in scoring and rebounding, is lost for the season with a torn ACL in her knee. She got hurt in the first game of the season. Two other starters – Kamimi Papp and Kylie Stewart – are also sidelined with injuries.

But their coach, Mark Maxfield, won’t let them give up. He’s making sure it’s truly a this-jar-is-half-full moment.

“We could feel sorry for ourselves or we can go to work,” Maxfield said. “That’s what we’ve done. We’ve gone to work.”

They’ve just had to change their scheme a little bit.

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Coach Mark Maxfield talks with his team during a timeout.

“We were going to dump it inside to Nicole,” Maxfield said. “Now we’ve had to go more to perimeter and we’ve done more pressing. We’re now more of an uptempo kind of team.”

And they’ve had to bring up some freshmen who probably wouldn’t have been called up this early. Kylee Bagwell, a 5-7 wing who is starting, is one of three freshmen on the team.

“They’re learning,” Maxfield said.

Hoquiam certainly got passing grades in Wednesday’s 57-20 blowout win against Forks. The Grizzlies, with their full-court pressure defense and uptempo, fast-break offense, jumped out to a 14-1 lead on Maya Jump’s basket from the corner with 33 seconds left in the first quarter. Hoquiam held Forks scoreless from the floor until nine seconds remained in the first period.

Even when the Grizzlies took a 51-13 lead late in the third quarter against Forks, they never let up on the gas. It’s a never-give-up mindset Maxfield preaches.

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Jade Fox (#3) is one of three talented freshmen on Hoqiam’s lineup.

“We’ve always got to come out and play hard,” said Kelci Parker, a senior guard and a returning starter. “It’s a matter of us dwindling those mental mistakes and start swinging the ball and getting it to the hot hand and looking inside.”

Without Hidalgo, it’s been more scoring by committee for the Grizzlies. In their 37-point win against Forks, all eight Grizzlies who played scored. Karlie Krohn, a 5-5 sophomore guard, led Hoquiam with 12 points. She was the only player to score in double figures.

It’s a “whoever is open and has the hot hand” offensive scheme. It worked perfectly against Forks. Besides Hidalgo, Hoquiam was also without starters Kylie Stewart and Kamimi Papp. Stewart took an elbow to her nose in a game earlier this week and might have a broken nose. Papp has shin splints and bursitis in her leg and is hoping to return.

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Kelci Parker, Hoquiam’s senior guard, drives against Forks.

Stewart, a 5-7 senior wing and a returning starter, is averaging a team-high 12 points. Parker, a 5-5 senior guard, is second in scoring with about a nine-point average. It was hard sitting out a game, but Stewart is determined to return. Though it’s a hardship, she’s learning to push herself in hard times. Rather than lay back, Stewart is making the most of the moment. It’s a teachable life lesson moment.

“When I’m struggling, I still give it all I can,” Stewart said.

She said her coach is always talking about life lessons learned in sports. There’s the discipline, the determination and the drive to do your best.

“He says we’re more like a family than a team,” Stewart said. “And he’s trying to teach us social skills, and talking on the court and being one with each other. It’s really a big family.”

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Arielle Burnett dribbles through a tight Forks defense.

That’s not an accident. Throughout the season, the Grizzlies have team bonding events – dinners or movie nights at teammate’s homes. They had pizza and watched a movie after their Rochester game.

Arielle Burnett is a perfect example of the Grizzlies determination. At 5-foot-2, Burnett is always one of the shortest players on the court. But she starts at point guard and is her team’s playmaker. She’s heard all her life that she’s too short to play basketball. But she’s proven her critics wrong.

“I’ve always just focused on pushing the ball,” Burnett said when talking about her height. “I’m faster than other people so I can drive right around them.”

She did that against Forks, driving and dishing to an open teammate.

“My job is to dish out and get other people the ball,” Burnett said.

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Hoquiam’s talented band plays during a timeout.

Burnett is an all-around athlete. Besides playing basketball and soccer, she was all-state in fastpitch last spring and next week will sign a letter-of-intent to play at Lower Columbia Community College next year.

With a young team – Hoquiam has just three seniors – Parker, a 5-5 senior guard, is the glue that helps hold the team together. She’s a returning starter and has been on the varsity since her freshman year, giving her that needed voice of experience.

“My mindset is I’m a senior now and I’ve been on the floor for four years,” Parker said. “People look to me to be that leader on the court. That’s what I say to myself when I step on the court.”

With all the injuries, this has been a learn and grow season for the Grizzlies.

“My hopes were really high at the start of the year,” Maxfield said. “And the injuries have really hurt us. We’ve lost some pretty close games. We could easily be 7-4.”

But Maxfield is making sure no Grizzly has given up.

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