The Bulldogs return four of their top five scorers from last season’s 19-victory squad, but developing depth will be a key to challenging again for the upper echelon of the NWAC North Region.
Among the returnees are Brenda Akoto, a 6-0 forward, who averaged 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds last season, both tops on the team, and guard Molly Dixon, who averaged 11.8 points and a team-high 2.7 assists.
Both Brenda Akoto and Dixon were second team all-North Region selections last season. Dixon also named to the North Region all-defensive team.
Also returning are 6-0 forward Melinda Akoto, Brenda’s twin sister, who averaged 7.3 points and 5.3 rebounds, and guard Sierra Cole, who averaged 5.8 points.
“The returners are ready. They came in with a little chip on their shoulder, ready to go,” said BC coach Mel Stubblefield. “They felt like they underachieved a little bit last year, even though we did have a pretty good year. 19-10 isn’t a bad year, but I think they realized that the NWAC is not what you think. There are some very good teams and very good players in the NWAC. They realize that and came in ready to play this year.”
Guard Kassin Hopkins, who played in 22 games last season at North Idaho, is a key addition.
The Bulldogs will be hard-pressed to replace swing player Erin Hamilton, a first-team all-region pick and the North Region defensive player of the year.
BC opened the 2017-18 campaign by winning two of three games in each of a pair of early season tournaments, including an amazing comeback that reflected Stubblefield’s philosophy.
“I tell all the players, that the biggest things for me are, one, you’ve got to complete, flat-out just compete,” Stubblefield said. “Two, you’ve got to have heart, and three, you’ve got to have pride – not only for yourself and your family, but also in that Bellevue jersey.”
At the North Idaho Crossover on Nov. 17-19, BC defeated SW Oregon 75-67 and Lower Columbia 69-61, before losing to North Idaho 90-77.
Brenda Akoto had 26 points and 11 rebounds, while Hopkins added 14 points and Dixon 12 in the win over SW Oregon. Against SW Oregon, Dixon had 18 points, Cole 17 and Melinda Akota had 12 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
Cole had 21 points and Dixon 20 in the loss to North Idaho.
“I was happy,” Stubblefield said. “In the North Idaho game, we I think we hurt ourselves. Having 23 turnovers in the first half and it was 42-42.
Anybody in their right mind who knows basketball, that shouldn’t be a tie ballgame, let’s just say that.”
In the Bulldog Classic at BC on Dec. 1-3, the Bulldogs avenged their earlier loss, overcoming a 50-33 halftime deficit to stun North Idaho 77-73. BC then dropped an 87-79 decision to unbeaten Umpqua, before bouncing back to defeat Highline 74-66.
Cole had 26 points, including four 3-pointers and Brenda Akoto added 17 points and eight rebounds in the comeback victory over North Idaho. Against Umpqua, Brenda Akoto had 25 points, Dixon 17 and Cole 16. Freshman Jorie Lambert came off the bench to chip in with 7 points.
Against Highline, Dixon had 20 points, Brenda Akota 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Melinda Akoto 19 points and 9 rebounds.
Through the first six games, the Bulldogs ability to take the ball to the basket resulted in BC’s making 105 of 145 free-throw attempts, both tops in the NWAC. Dixon is 44 of 58 from the line over that span.
“It’s going to be the little things for us this year,” Stubblefield said. “Taking care of the ball, being strong with the ball. Getting to the free-throw line. That’s going to be a real big thing for us.”
Last Updated December 4, 2017