TWIN FALLS — The College of Southern Idaho women’s basketball team is off to 6-1 start, and three players from the Magic Valley are contributing to the success.
Meghan and Katie Hughes, both sophomores from Filer, and Kaela McClure, a freshman from Jerome, are putting in minutes, and their efforts showed Friday night in a 117-29 home-opening victory over Tohono O’odham at the Idaho Central Credit Union Invitational.
The 88-point blowout is CSI’s largest since at least 1986, which is as far back as the team’s online game-by-by game records date.
Meghan Hughes finished the night with 15 points, three points back of the leading scorer for the Golden Eagles, Jamie Nielson. She also contributed 11 rebounds, two behind team leader Tiena Afu.
“You wouldn’t know she’s only 5’8” when she’s pulling down 11 rebounds like she did tonight,” CSI head coach Randy Rogers said.
Meghan has started in four of the six games she’s been in this season, which Rogers said shows the work she’s put in, as she barely had any playing time last year.
“She’s come a long way,” he said. “Her skills have developed, and she has vastly improved. Her confidence has skyrocketed, too, which I think is a big part in her production right now.”
Her sister, Katie, has also earned time as a sophomore from the bench, including 11 minutes against Tohono O’odham, which she used to tally nine points and two steals.
McClure earned a spot in the starting rotation in her first game as a Golden Eagle, with good ball rotation and defense. Despite being listed as one of the smallest players for CSI, the 5-foot-6 guard averages 5.0 points per game and is second in assists this season with 15 (going into Friday).
She said one of the keys to the Golden Eagles’ success so far has been that no one player really stands out from the rest. In fact, though the team scores more than 83 points per game, no one contributes more than Tiena Afu’s team-leading 13.4 points a game.
“Our dynamic is kind of like a family,” McClure said. “We all put in, and that’s what makes it so great.”
The three locals played each other in high school before teaming up at CSI, and McClure said playing with the Hughes sisters is a lot more fun than playing against them.
“They were always kind of mean when I was younger and had to play them,” she said. “It’s definitely nice playing with them now.”
Rogers stresses that he doesn’t bring talent from the Magic Valley because they draw a crowd or grew up watching the Golden Eagles.
“We don’t get locals just to get locals,” he said. “We expect them to play just as hard as anybody else, and these three have shown that thus far.”
He also said that one thing he’s seen from these three is dedication that comes from having a chip on one’s shoulder.
“It’s something about these players from Idaho where you know you’re going to get 100 percent from them each night,” he said. “They have something to prove.”
As far as the team, in general, Rogers doesn’t put a ton of stock into the wins because of ease of schedule. However, he said that his team has played two “quality games,” a win against Western Nebraska and a loss to Cochise, and has traveled well.
“Knowing that six of the seven (games) have been on the road, that’s something to be proud of, that we can win in different environments,” he said.