Missy Peterson wore a big smile as she talked to friends and former coaches during a recent visit to Edmonds-Woodway High School. As the 2017 graduate was on campus during her summer break from classes and athletics at the University of Washington and reminiscing about her high school days, the soon-to-be junior couldn’t help to think about her most recent year playing basketball for the Huski
“I had all the fun in the world; it was great,” she said with another smile.
Peterson, after a strong freshman year at Washington, saw her playing time and production go up as a sophomore — and all for a team she truly enjoys playing for.
“It was so much fun,” Peterson stressed. “I mean, being able to play for your home town in the place where you grew up and the team you rooted for as a kid — it’s a little girl’s dream. It makes it all that much better playing with the teammates that I have and the coaches that I have and the support staff. It makes everything so much fun.”
Playing at Washington after graduating from Edmonds-Woodway wasn’t part of the original plan for Peterson; the 5-10 guard had signed a letter of intent to attend Long Beach State and become a 49er. But the summer before the 2017-2018 season and Peterson’s freshman year, Long Beach State Coach Jody Wynn was hired to take the helm of the Huskies women’s basketball program; Peterson sought and was granted a release from her commitment to the 49ers and was able to follow Wynn to Washington.
Now Peterson is not only loving life as a Husky but is also bringing smiles to Washington coaches, teammates and fans with her play. As a sophomore last season, Peterson appeared in 31 games for UW (25 games as a starter), averaged 9.4 points per game and led the team in three-point shooting percentage at 36.4 percent — all the while playing some of the season with a protective mask over her face after breaking her nose twice.
But it was the late portion of the 2018-2019 season when Peterson shone the brightest; she averaged 14 points per game over the team’s final five games, including 23 points in a pair of contests. Peterson was also instrumental in the Huskies’ biggest victories last year, upset wins in the first two rounds of the 2019 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas.
Peterson scored 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting (including 6-of-8 from 3-point range) to help no.11-seed Washington defeat no.6-seed Utah 64-54 in the first round of the tourney. The next day Peterson hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds remaining to lift the Huskies over No. 3-seed Oregon State 68-67.
“Oh my gosh, it was unreal,” Peterson said of the Huskies’ final stretch of 2018-2019. “The last few games of our season, it was so much fun. We went into that tournament with nothing to lose and we wanted to just lay everything out on that floor. Getting the two upsets that nobody expected us to get, it feels good to prove people wrong and to show everybody the team that we see behind closed doors that works so hard every single day.”
Peterson said sinking the game winner in the tournament second-round matchup against the Beavers was a dream come true.
“I think every little girl pictures hitting big game-winning shots like that, but you never really know what it feels like until you do it,” she explained. “I’ve never felt anything like that; it was almost like it was numb. But it will stick with me the rest of my life. I’m so grateful for that moment and to experience it with all the people that I got to experience it with.”
To view Peterson’s game-winning 3-pointer against Oregon State, click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p41–homXA.
After an eventful spring, Peterson is already preparing for the next season as many of her Husky teammates are away for the summer.
“We get a little bit of a break,” Peterson explained. “Everybody from out of state gets to go home, see their families, get a little bit of a summer. But since I’m here I’ll still be training and I’ll be able to help out with our incoming freshmen who will be up here training with our coaches.”
Peterson will also take part in the team’s formal five-week camp later this summer in addition to beginning classes in her chosen major of communications.
After compiling just an 11-21 record last year, Peterson and the Huskies are looking for more wins during the 2019-2020, not just in the season’s final stages.
“Although our year didn’t go as planned, we finished strong and I’m just excited for the momentum to carry over to next year,” Peterson said.
— By Doug Petrowski