Olympic Rangers start season with a win

It took three seasons for Olympic College women’s basketball coach Rick Peters to reach the 10-win mark. But to make the Rangers a contender in the tough Northern Division of Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges, he knows he’ll need to make that many division wins to make the postseason.

The first step of that journey came Wednesday night when the Lady Rangers came out at halftime with a 25-25 tie to beat the Green River Gators 65-59 at the Bremer Student Center gym.

OC held off a 15-point, nine rebound performance by former South Kitsap standout Olivia Bui with a blistering man-to-man defense Peters said will be his team’s strongest asset.

“Our emphasis this year is strong man-to-man with a lot of help from your teammates and our offense will be created out of our defense,” Peters said. “If we can stay in control — we didn’t show it a lot tonight — it creates a lot of havoc.”

Bui, who has averaged 15 points in the Gators’ first two games, said her new team (which has no sophomores and a new coach) is struggling to come together.

“We’re trying to figure out who can play with who because we’re all new to the team,” said Bui, who had about a dozen supporters in the stands. “We just have to get things meshing together.”

The Rangers had their own problems meshing in their first game which mostly can be attributed to having only three returners on a roster that includes seven sophomores — including former King’s West grad Natasha Beals who’s out for much of the first month of the season after breaking a bone in her right hand in practice.

“Natasha is a phenomenal defender,” Peters said of the transfer from Washington State. “We miss her on defense. We don’t want to rush her, but we want her back as soon as possible. She has potential to do something else besides this so we don’t want to get her hurt more. But with her and Dana Diehl (a sophomore guard from Aniak, Alaska) on the court at the same we can take away our opponents’ two best ball handlers.”

Peters said his goal is to keep opponents from scoring 60 points.

“It’s all about defense,” he said. “No matter how poor our offense is in a game, if we keep them to less than 60 we can stay in it.”

Beth Grams (a 6-foot-1 sophomore from King’s West) and sophomore Melody Green (5-11, Gold Beach, Ore.) had strong openings in their second season at OC. Grams made a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds to go with her six blocked shots. Green, the oldest player at age 27, scored 15 with 8 boards. Diehl led all scorers with 21 points.

“Beth’s a finesse player and a tremendous shotblocker,” Peters said. “If we can get her to be the offensive threat she’s capable of being that will be a bonus.”

Grams and Green agreed with Peters that this year’s team is the best the Rangers have put out in the past four seasons.

“Last year’s team had some weak spots,” Peters said. “I believe this year our weaknesses can be replaced from our bench.”

Peters went to his bench frequently and managed to get all 11 players in the game.

“Everyone needs to know their roles,” Peters said. “When we substitute in and substitute out, we gain something each time and we lose something each time.

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