Hitting the Hardwood

// Previewing Tacoma Girls Hoops squads

As most teams have begun their seasons in the past few days, Tacoma Weekly completes our basketball previews with a look at local girls’ squads, and what players will be key to their success this season.

BELLARMINE

Coming off of four consecutive trophies at the state 4A tournament, the Lady Lions are facing an early season dilemma of who will fill the shoes of all-everything Sarah Hartwell. Coach Kevin Meines believes he has the pieces in place for another trip to Tacoma Dome.

Jasmyne Holmes, Ionna Price and Nyzhe Primas were all underclassmen who performed well last year and should be ready to pick up where Hartwell and Simmone Potts left off last year.

“These ladies will hit the court this year with a large chip on their shoulder. They don’t want to be the first team to not trophy in the last five years,” said Meines. “Getting to state will not surprise me. These girls have the ability to get that far.”

By Steve Mullen

MOUNT TAHOMA

The Thunderbirds lost some key seniors from last year’s playoff squad, but do return talented players.

“We have some players who are going to be difference makers,” said coach Calvin McHenry, whose squad has averaged more than 70 points per game for nine straight seasons.

McHenry noted that senior guard Kaitlynn Bunger is finally healthy after battling injuries last year, while speedy senior guard Ashyna Davis returns and is a solid defensive stopper. Junior guard Ashley Keys is a threat from three-point range, and Gig Harbor transfer Jasmine Mamea adds depth to the backcourt as well.

“Where we’re lacking is post play because we’ve lost some strong posts,” McHenry said. “That’s the x-factor.”

By Jeremy Helling

STADIUM

Coach Mark Stewart takes over a Tigers squad looking to rebound from a rough season last year.

“The girls have been doing a great job of learning and changing,” said Stewart.

Luisa Wilmerstaedt, a 6-foot-1 post player, will lead the Tigers inside but also flashes outside range, while sophomore guard Angela Yun will be key to the backcourt.

“She’s very smart, and she can attack the basket as good as any sophomore I’ve seen,” Stewart said of Yun.

Center Carli Hallis, who averaged nine rebounds per game last year, also returns to anchor the interior, and Lakes transfer Nerissa Williams provides versatility in being able to play guard or forward.

By Jeremy Helling

WILSON

The memory still lingers from last year, one game short of the 3A state tournament. That was last year, and the Lady Rams are poised for what many believe will be a trip to Tacoma Dome in March with loads of talent at every position.

“We did a lot of work in the off-season and Kaysha Fox has been a great leader and I think she’ll carry that into the regular season,” said head coach Michelle Birge.

Joining Fox in carrying the load for the Lady Rams this year will be guard Bethany Montgomery and post players Tia Briggs and Nina Caldwell. Freshman Dejah Rogers will join newcomers Valentina Sakia and Valery Vangen, who Birge says “can really shoot” to give Wilson an embarrassment of riches off the bench.

“Getting to the Dome in March is a realistic expectation,” added Birge.

By Steve Mullen

FOSS

The Falcons welcome back two key players, senior guard Jasmine McKinney and junior guard Sierra Brooks, who missed most of last season for various reasons.

“They’re two kids we counted on last year that weren’t there,” said head coach Jeff Ptolemy, adding that both can handle the ball and have decent range. “They make the people around them better.”

Post player Ashleigh Beam also returns and will contribute, and junior guard Pawarisa Onmun will add depth and experience in the backcourt.

“We really want to focus on handling pressure, especially in the full court. That destroyed us last year,” said Ptolemy. “We’re a little short in the post, so being able to rebound defensively is something we’ll work on every day.”

By Jeremy Helling

TACOMA BAPTIST

The Crusaders return a trio of playmakers in senior shooting guard Paige Narayan, a three-point specialist, junior post/wing Taylor Talen and six-foot sophomore Sarah Zeitler.

“They will be playing college somewhere. They work hard,” said coach Josh Narayan, adding that Zeitler brings shot-blocking ability while Talen is an excellent rebounder. “They had a great summer together.”

Sophomore point guard Becca McDonald brings quickness, while senior guards Sallie Ausmus and Savannah Van Eycke add experience to the backcourt.

“They’re goal is to get back to state,” said Narayan of the Crusaders, who were defeated by a basket with seconds remaining in a district game last season to cost them a chance at the state playoffs.

By Jeremy Helling

LIFE CHRISTIAN

Coming off of a subpar season, the Lady Eagles are ready to turn the corner with a good young team.

“We have three proven players ready to step in and take us a long way this year,” said head coach Robert Normandeau.

The three players expected to lead Life to bigger and better things are senior point guard Rachel Goodman, junior wing Lauren Christine and sophomore post Johnnise Moore.

“We also have a good freshman class waiting in the wings with three good guards in Taylor Boles, Maddy Long and Katie Anderson,” added Normandeau. “Reasonable expectations would be to at least get to districts this year and beyond in future years with the incoming talent.”

By Steve Mullen

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