Basketball season kicked off at Renton High School between two longtime foes. Hazen traveled down to Renton to take on the Redhawks in both sides first official game on Nov. 27. The Highlanders took care of business, winning 70-23 over Renton.
Hazen Head Coach Shannon Rance is in her first season leading the Highlanders, the Renton High alumna won state as a shot-put thrower three times in Red and Black. “It was a lot of fun,” said Rance.
“It felt great, I love Coach Rance. We do it for our team and do it for each other… Coach Rance shows us all the love so we feel confident with her,” Senior Dakota Nap said.
Hazen has now won five out of the last six meetings since 2016 including a huge win last season 58-25 against the Redhawks. That game last season was the only game Renton scored under 30 points all season, Hazen went on to make the district tournament while Renton was able to rebound and go to state.
In this contest Hazen walked away looking like the better side, the more complete side. “I’ll have to look at the book but I believe everybody scored. That’s a great game in my book,” Rance said.
Nap is the leader of this side and leads on offense and defense. “She’s always been able to pass the ball, I’m looking for her to shoot some more. But she has a good balance of when to shoot and when to pass, that decision making,” Rance said on her senior.
Nap got going early and really separated the Highlanders from Renton from tip-off. She had 10 points in the first quarter and Hazen led by 20 after the first.
Right as that first quarter came to a close, the Renton High School fire alarm system went off. So fans, referees, players and coaches all had to evacuate the building until the ‘all clear’ was given by RHS admin.
It was roughly a 10-minute break in action before play resumed and the Highlanders didn’t miss a beat. Before going down with a knee injury in the second half, Sadie Hollander was playing excellent. Hollander had 12 points in the first half alone and was a force rebounding for the Highlanders.
The second half was not as high scoring with the Highlanders only scoring 10 points in each of the two remaining quarters. But the 50-16 halftime lead gave Head Coach Shannon Rance a chance to play those who might not get a chance to play every game, a considerable chunk of play in the first game of the season. “We all like each other,” Nap said.
“We all just want everyone to be successful, everyone has their eyes up,” she continued.
The Redhawks struggled mightily in this game, not much going on offense and defensively, they didn’t have the size to compete against Hazen. Head Coach Tim White calls this year “A rebuild season’. Anytime a team makes the state tournament and loses six seniors the next year, especially game one, is going to be a tough one. But the two studs that Renton can use going forward this season are senior Teagan Patek and junior Leilah Spalding.
Patek had the first seven points for the Redhawks in this game and finished with 10 while Spalding had seven with two three-pointers.
The Hazen girls program hasn’t made the state tournament since 2018 but showed promise early on in this season. “Me and India have to ensure everyone is on the same page. I have to stay aggressive because I know it hurts my team when I’m not… Everyone just stays aggressive and keeps their eyes up, and building that team chemistry is the key,” Nap said.
The Highlanders are back in action Dec. 1 while Renton takes on Foster Dec. 6.