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Hazen girls basketball | Season preview
It’s all in the look.
The first thing Hazen girls basketball coach Jeff Bernhardt will tell anyone who asks about star senior Airashay Rogers is that she desperately wants to pass and get her teammates involved. But when time starts to wind down and the Highlanders are trailing, he also knows what to expect.
“When I see that look, it’s like all right everybody buckle up because here we go,” Bernhardt said. “There will be times when she’s going to take the game over and everybody will be fine with it because she’s Airashay Rogers.”
Rogers, who committed to play for the University of Washington in November, has been leading the team since she stepped on the floor as a freshman. That year she led Hazen to its first state tournament appearance since 1991.
Taking over the game has never been a problem for the talented, 5-foot-7 guard; she’s averaged at least 18.3 points per game every season (and 26.0 per game last season). But Bernhardt knows the Highlanders will be at their best with Rogers acting as an efficient blend of scorer and facilitator for the players around her.
“I like to pass,” Rogers said. “I have four other girls on the floor with me for a reason; it’s not a one-man show. I have other people who can do things I can’t do, so why not use them?”
Many of the Highlanders’ issues in the past have come from players relying on Rogers to make plays.
“In the past we’ve been accused of having girls who want to watch Airashay play,” Bernhardt said. “This year we’ve got girls who want to play with her.”
Starting in the front court are junior forwards Anastasia Pallis, Cameron Devereux and Tyra Markey. Joining Rogers in the backcourt is sophomore Javonya Stewart.
Pallis was fourth on the team with 4.9 points per game last year, Markey chipped in 1.4 and Stewart 2.2. Devereux is new to the team this year.
Bernhardt said this mix, especially having a 6-foot-1 post who is athletic in Devereux, will allow Hazen to play a more uptempo style.
“That’s the way I’d like to play and the way we’re most successful at,” he said.
Also playing key roles will be Gabby Brower, Cecillee Fernandez, Samantha McCord, Lauren Goss and Ariana Williams.
Bernhardt hopes this is the right mix to get the Highlanders back into the state tournament, something that’s been frustratingly elusive the past two seasons.
He said many of the girls Rogers plays with in summer leagues and will play with at college all have that postseason success that Hazen hasn’t quite been able to grasp.
“It eats at her as a competitor and just as a proud person who got the taste early and hasn’t really been back,” he said. “She’s frustrated, but she’s optimistic with this group.”
For Rogers, it’s about first winning the games immediately in front of her.
“Before we look to getting there we have to get a good record, beat the teams we’re supposed to beat and play hard against hard teams,” she said.
Hazen beat Ingraham in a non-league opener Tuesday night 57-29. Rogers scored 23 points, while Fernandez scored 15.
Hazen faces Lindbergh Dec. 7 in the league opener.