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Star power helps propel Lady Hawks

Northwest Guardian

Published: 11:10AM March 20th, 2017
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Northwest Guardian

Lady Hawks guard Tahara Williams (2) looks for an open teammate after colliding with Lady Savage guard J. Rodriguez during the JBLM Open Women’s Basketball League championship game at the McChord Fitness Center Saturday. The Lady Hawks defeated Lady Savage 52-38.

Scoring summary

Lady Savage 20 18 – 38

Lady Hawks 32 20 – 52

INDIVIDUAL SCORING

Savage – Missy Byrd, 14; Stephanie Smith, 6; Tiffany Montgomery, 4; Sara Weltering, 4; Tabitha Phillips, 3; Yoshi Mack, 3; J. Rodriguez, 2; Erica Hamlin, 2; Brandi Breuster, 0.

Hawks – Gabrille Wade, 20; Alex Montgomery, 19; Jasmin Montgomery, 6; Jahara Miller, 3; Deborah Johnson, 2; Tahara Williams, 2; Porscha Foster 0; Sable Myers, 0; Latrel Williams, 0.

TEAM STATISTICS

Rebounds – Savage, 21 (Byrd 6, Weltering 3, Rodriguez 3, Hamlin 3, Smith 3, Phillips, Mack, T. Montgomery); Hawks, 28 (A. Montgomery 16, Wade 9, T. Williams 2, Foster 1).

Assists – Savage, 7 (Rodriguez 3, Byrd 2, Mack 2); Hawks, 15 (Johnson 6, J. Montgomery 4, A. Montgomery 3, T. Williams, 1, Miller 1).

Steals – Savage, 2 (Rodriguez, Breuster); Hawks, 2 (J. Montgomery, Johnson).

With the 2017 Women’s National Basketball Association not starting until May, Alex Montgomery of the San Antonio Stars continues to keep herself in shape while in her hometown of Tacoma.

In addition to playing any pick-up games she can find, she was invited to be part of the Lady Hawks team in the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Open Women’s Basketball League this year. The league is open to service members, families and civilians. Montgomery was a factor in the Hawks defeating the Lady Savage in the championship, 52-38, Sunday at the McChord Fitness Center.

Montgomery had 19 points and 16 rebounds, but she only had six points in the first half.

“I really wanted my teammates to score,” Montgomery said. “I didn’t want to be a ball hog.”

Her connection with the Lady Hawks is that many of her friends were looking to help fill out a full roster that only had three players returning from last season. Montgomery, who will be entering seventh season in the WNBA in 2017, said it was a privilege to be a part of the JBLM open women’s league.

“They’re welcoming and trusting,” Montgomery said. “It’s an honor to support the Air Force and Army overall.”

The most valuable player of the game was Gabrille Wade, who finished the game with 20 points and nine rebounds. Eighteen of her points came in the first half. She was a big part of the Lady Hawks’ fast start that included a 20-0 run in the first 10 minutes.

“We’ve got tons of runners on our team,” Wade said. “We just pressed for the first six minutes of the game, and that’s what helped us jump out in front.”

Despite coming into this year’s open women’s league, the Lady Hawks struggled for most of the regular season before the tournament that started March 9. Rodney Pickett, the Hawks’ coach, said the team lost all of their games until the last game of the regular season.

The Lady Hawks went undefeated in the double-elimination tournament to repeat as league champions.

“We pretty much came together at the right time,” Pickett said.

The Lady Savage also had a lot of new players on its team with just four returning from last year, but the team improved after losing in the semifinal round of the league tournament in 2016. The Lady Savage — especially team captain Stephanie Smith — was looking forward to playing the Hawks.

Smith suffered a fractured wrist last year and pushed to find players for this year’s team. It was difficult for the league as it fell to just four teams. This led Smith and others to recruit actively.

Like the Lady Hawks, the Lady Savage had a collection of service members, families and civilians — all who have a passion for the sport of basketball.

“For women, we just want to hoop,” Smith said. “We don’t get this kind of chance very often. We just want to play.”

Dean Siemon: 253-477-0235, @deansiemon