By Ray Hamill — It’s been a nomadic few years for Sophie Northern on the basketball court, but she appears to have found a new home with the Seawolves.
Northern is enjoying a stellar season playing for Sonoma State, which is in the thick of the hunt for a CCAA tournament spot in what is shaping up to be a fascinating race, with just one win separating fourth from 10th in the standings.
“I think we’re hitting our peak right now, which is what you want to do,” said Northern, whose team plays at Cal State East Bay on Saturday night.
For Northern, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind year, attending a new school, playing for a new team, and moving away from home for the first time, but she seems to have settled in nicely, both on and off the court.
“It’s definitely been a learning curve,” she said. “Just getting out of Humboldt. I’ve lived in Humboldt my whole life.”
Northern’s game has thrived during that learning curve, and she has become an integral part of the Seawolves late-season push.
On Thursday, the former H-DNL player led her team to a dramatic 72-60 win at Cal State Monterey Bay, the team’s third straight victory.
Northern scored a game-high 18 points in a come-from-behind effort that saw the Seawolves outscore their hosts 27-11 in the fourth quarter.
It was a season-high for the former H-DNL player, and her pinpoint accuracy from 3-point range was instrumental in the win, as she nailed five of her six 3-point attempts.
For the season, the Arcata High graduate leads Sonoma State in 3-pointers (32), 3-point percentage (.340), and free-throw percentage (.815), and she is second in points per game with 10.8.
And that’s not even the most impressive part of her development this season.
“It’s been a new start and it’s opened me up to a lot of new ways to look at basketball,” Northern said. “For most of my basketball career, I’ve been offensively minded, and defensively I’ve gotten away with my length. But this year (head coach Rich Shayewitz) is very hardcore when it comes to defense.”
And that new-found focus has been evident on the court.
(UPDATE – Northern continued her big week by scoring a team-high 14 points in Saturday’s 59-49 loss at CS East Bay.)
The move to Sonoma State
After playing basketball for three years at Fortuna High, Northern transferred to Arcata for her senior year, but was unable to play basketball with the Tigers because of transfer rule deadlines within the league.
After graduating high school in 2015, she joined the HSU program for a year, but in her own words, “it just wasn’t the right fit.”
She then sat out a year before transferring to College of the Redwoods for her sophomore season, which prepared her for the move to Sonoma State this season.
Former HSU player DJ Broome, who spent time coaching at CR before joining the Sonoma State men’s program as an assistant coach, told the women’s staff they should take a look at Northern.
“He told the coaches about me at CR and they came to watch a couple of my games,” Northern said. “And I came here to take a visit and it just felt right.”
Northern, whose sister Bree is enjoying an impressive freshman season at CR, will be back in Humboldt on Feb. 28 when the Seawolves travel to HSU for what is likely to be a key game for playoff positioning.
And it’s a game she is looking forward to.
“I am excited about it,” she said. “I’ve had that game written on my calendar for a while.”