Evergreen hitches wagon to Fenumiai, who responds in big way

December 19, 2016

Gabi Fenumiai basketball

Gabi Fenumiai

Evergreen State College senior Gabi Fenumiai of Juneau didn’t say much to her teammates when she didn’t get a ton of touches the first month of the women’s basketball season.

Her coach said something, though, because the 6-foot post from Alaska became the focal point of the offense once again.

Fenumiai was at her best last week when she averaged 21 points on 79 percent shooting in three games to earn player-of-the-week honors in the NAIA Cascade Collegiate Conference.

“We have a pretty young team this year, so the start of our season was dedicated to us building the team and creating a chemistry and finding our identity as a team,” she told me. “Our coach has made it a point that I have to be an option in our offense in order for us to succeed as a team and with that weekend of games in particular, my team took care of me in that way.”

Fenumiai, of Juneau-Douglas High fame, played a pivotal role in leading the 3-8 Geoducks to a 2-1 record last week, including the program’s first weekend sweep of conference opponents in two years.

She made 10-of-11 shots and scored 25 points in a win over Multnomah and followed it up by sinking 12-of-16 shots for a season-high 27 points in a win over Warner Pacific.

“They found a way to get me the ball and I made sure to go get the ball as well,” Fenumiai said. “We like to call it having the ‘eye of the tiger’ mentality, where every possession I am trying to create something for my team. And that’s what’s been happening. My team works to get the ball to me and I go to work for them.”

Evergreen coach Jen Schooler credited Fenumiai’s confidence on and off the court.

“She is demanding the ball and catching passes because her guards need her to, she is communicating effectively because our freshmen need her to, and she is playing more minutes than ever before because her team needs her to,” the coach told the school’s website. “Her growth from last year to this year as a human has been incredible to watch and experience. We as a coaching staff are excited to see her grow even more as the season continues on.”

The increased touches in the paint catapulted Fenumiai’s scoring average from 10.1 points per game in November to 19.4 points per game in December. In addition, her shooting percentage soared from awesome [.500] to astronomical [.800].

“As far as how I go about getting position for my shots, it’s a combination of both strength and strategy. Once I get a feel of the other team’s defense and the person guarding me I am able to move and communicate to my team when and where to give me the ball to put me in the best position to score,” she said.

“A lot of it is about being smart and timing my moves as well as being smart on how to use my body and strength to my advantage. There are some times where I get the ball and I have 3 people on me and I just have to power through them to get my buckets.”