For a roster full of talent, and a team full of expectations, the sixth-ranked Garfield Bulldogs know February is the month they have to make their move in Class 3A.
Even if that means surviving and advancing against tough opponents.
With standout McDonald’s All-American Dalayah Daniels (ankle) still playing limited time, the rest of the Bulldogs picked up the slack in a 49-44 victory over No. 7 Seattle Prep on Wednesday afternoon in the semifinals of the Metro League girls basketball tournament at Royal Brougham Pavilion on the campus of Seattle Pacific University.
Daniels did come off the bench to lead Garfield with 15 points. Meghan Fiso added 14. Molly Moffitt led all scorers for the Panthers with 17 points.
Here are three game observations:
WITH DANIELS SLOW TO RECOVER, FISO NEEDS TO BE THE ONE TO LEAD GARFIELD’S FIRST UNIT
Fiso is the first to admit that, after three seasons at West Seattle High School, coming over to Garfield for her senior year has been challenging.
“At first it was a little rough because I did not which role I should be playing,” Fiso said.
Garfield coach Marvin Hall and his staff have now made it perfectly clear: Score.
The Michigan signee was as aggressive offensively as she’s been all season. She tallied eight of her 14 points in the first 4:09, getting the Bulldogs off and running.
“Since she’s been out for a while, I just felt like I needed to be more aggressive for my team,” Fiso said.
DANIELS MIGHT NOT BE HER USUAL POGO-STICK SELF THE REST OF THE YEAR, BUT HER PRESENCE IS STILL INVALUABLE
Hall isn’t sure his his 6-foot-4 enforcer will be fully healthy for the rest of her senior season.
Daniels was injured early at the Nike Tournament of Championships in December in Arizona, and did not return for extended minutes until the Metro showdown Jan. 31 at Eastside Catholic.
The good news Wednesday was that Daniels moved around much better than she did in that 73-49 loss to the Crusaders. In fact, she triggered the key 9-0 run midway through the third quarter by scoring seven of her team’s points, giving Garfield a 33-21 lead.
Daniels made a couple of nice face-up cuts getting buckets near the basket, and even made a late 3-pointer.
The bad news is that the Bulldogs might have to monitor her minutes from here on out. She played 13 1/2 minutes Wednesday off the bench.
“She is a big factor on our team,” Fiso said.
IF SEATTLE PREP WANTS TO MAKE ANY MARCH NOISE, TAMIA STRICKLIN HAS TO BE A SCORING BEHEMOTH
Seattle Prep has so much polished skill, it is sometimes frustrating.
The Panthers seemingly do everything you’d want in cohesive team basketball, led by Moffitt, who is their energy player, and Stricklin.
But for them to beat the heavyweights of 3A, Stricklin has to be a consistent scorer for a team that does not pile up many points.
On Wednesday, she was held scoreless in the first half before tallying 13 points over the final 11 1/2 minutes, including three 3-pointers, as the Panthers made a late push.
“The team relies on me to be able to get a bucket,” Stricklin said. “We were closer (to beating Garfield) this time.”