Basketballs are thumping up and down the court as the prep season is underway. Here’s a rundown of the Inglemoor, North Creek, Bothell and Cedar Park Christian boys and girls squads as they jump into the action.
Inglemoor battled some of Washington’s top teams and notched one win in three games at the 4A state Hardwood Classic tournament last season, and coach Kristina Schumacher said the Vikings are gunning to return to the Tacoma Dome and place higher this season.
The Vikings — who finished 21-8 last season — bounced off to a 3-0 start at press time. Team chemistry, leadership and a defensive mentality will be the pillars of the Vikings’ game this season.
Senior point guard and University of California San Diego commit Lucy Young will lead the squad this season. The 5-foot-9 player earned KingCo defensive player of the year honors last season and led the team in steals and rebounds.
Joining Young on the top-returner list are senior guard/point guard Katelyn Laccinole (5-4), who worked hard on her game in the offseason; junior guard Isabella Reed (5-10), who displays composure and consistency while shooting the ball and finishing at the basket; junior forward Abby Haller (5-11), who is active inside and provides a soft shooting touch outside; and energetic and tenacious sophomore guard/forward Colbi Zorich (5-11), who possesses a high basketball IQ.
Newcomers who are expected to make an impact on both sides of the court are sophomore guard Sofia Pequignot (5-7) and freshman guard Dulcy Solomon (5-5).
Schumacher’s three-pronged coaching philosophy is “Character. Commitment. Compete,” and she sees that happening on the court, in the classroom and as community members.
“At the end of one’s high school basketball career, she will be remembered for the kind of teammate she is. Every player who comes through our program will feel her own value through her commitment,” the coach said.
Coach Greg Lowell’s philosophy is “Play hard, play defense, play together,” and that credo had the Vikings off to a 4-0 start at press time. Last season, Inglemoor finished 18-7 and competed in the district tournament.
“We have a good nucleus of returning players, six seniors and feel like we have a chance to be a good team,” said Lowell, who will be inducted into the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in July.
Inglemoor returns four starters in senior captains Zach Shimek (6-foot guard) and Peter Hansen (6-4 forward) — both first-team all-leaguers last season — along with seniors Brady Casto (6-2 guard) and Tim Donahue (6-5 forward). Other returners are senior Dawson Tucker (6-1 guard) and juniors Aidan Bennett (6-2 guard) and Logan Russell (6-1 guard).
New to the Viking fold are senior Zach Hedge (6-3 forward), juniors Gavin Hudkins (6-3 forward) and Nick Smith (6-2 guard) and freshman Murphy Blackburn (6-1 forward).
In a Reporter feature last year, Shimek said that team chemistry and diligence were keys to the Vikings’ success. Heading into the postseason, he added that the Viks needed to continue playing hard as a team and for all four quarters to keep the wins rolling in.
The Jaguars — who were off to a 4-1 overall start at press time — will focus on playing an uptempo game matched with a pressure defense, according to coach Calvin McHenry.
North Creek, which lost three starters from last year’s team, returns two starters in senior guard Brandi White (5-8) and junior guard Kyra Mickey (5-9). Also back from last year’s squad to lead the team are senior point guard Mia Kosoglow (5-5), junior guard Allison Bianchi (5-8) and junior forward Emma Unruh (6-1).
Key newcomers are sophomores Alex Charlton (a 6-foot forward) and Audrianna Scott (a 5-6 guard) and freshman Amy Kovich (a 6-foot forward).
“North Creek has a promising outlook for this season and the future with a lot of young athletic players led by the leadership of two seasoned seniors with playoff experience,” said McHenry, whose team was 14-11 last season.
Coach Wayde Knowles’ philosophy is to “play great defense, share the ball and play more uptempo this year.” He feels the Jaguars can go 12 players deep each game and not lose a beat.
Tops on the returner front are junior Garrison Kepley (a 6-6 wing), junior Matt Suguitan (a 6-1 guard), senior Tyson Bingcang (a 5-11 guard) and senior Tanner Thompson (a 6-4 wing). Knowles said that some junior-varsity players from last year will contribute some valuable minutes this time out.
“Our outlook in our third year is to continue to get better each and every day and our goal this year is to make the playoffs, and see what we can do when we get there,” the coach said.
North Creek (7-13 last season) was 3-2 at press time.
Leon Johnson has a host of young players on board who will receive a lot of minutes during the season. They’ll be in learning mode, the coach said, “which makes their growth our success going forward.”
Bothell’s top returner is junior Devon Lipkin (a 5-9 guard/forward), and the Cougars welcome aboard sophomore Jada Walters (a 5-10 forward), freshman Ella Kaleta (a 5-6 combo guard), freshman Makenna Monks (a 5-6 guard/forward) and junior Yi Wang (a 6-1 forward).
Bothell, which won one game last season and was 2-1 at press time, will rely on the versatility of its players. Johnson is excited to see some of the girls perform multiple tasks this season.
“The girls’ level of competition is really high and now learning how to play with each other since four of our starters (had) never played in a varsity game before,” Johnson said.
Cougar football players Colin Fisherkeller and Jordyn Turner have put their helmets and shoulder pads away after finishing second in state and are now battling it out on the basketball court.
They’ll join impact players Jaiden Bernstine (a sophomore 6-4 forward), Miroslav Pavlenko (a sophomore 6-6 center) and Damar Johnson (a sophomore 5-11 point guard) on the court this season. Fisherkeller is a 5-11 senior guard and Turner is a 6-5 senior wing.
Bothell, which finished 10-13 last season, will focus on fundamentals and defense, according to longtime coach Ron Bollinger.
With Turner and Pavlekno on board, “I think we can be one of the more athletic teams in the league,” Bollinger said.
Bernstine can block shots with his long arms and has developed a well-rounded offensive game that has him driving to the basket and scoring with either hand, Bollinger said. Fisherkeller brings grit, hustle and leadership to the squad and Pavlenko will be a solid inside player, the coach added.
Bollinger said that during the season the Cougars (0-1 at press time) learn life lessons from being a part of a team such as making sacrifices to strive for success as a whole squad.
CEDAR PARK CHRISTIAN
Focusing on the fundamentals and playing disciplined basketball on both ends of the court are tops on coach Brittani O’Malley’s philosophy sheet.
Senior Irena Korolenko has signed to play at Seattle University next season and will lead the way for the Eagles. She’s a 6-foot shooting guard, but can play any position, the coach said. Top returners are freshman Olivia Decker (a 5-10 post), freshman Morgan Perrigoue (a 5-2 point guard) and freshman Ana Brown (a 5-10 post).
The Eagles (2-3 at press time) have a young squad and the program has upped its numbers from nine to 22 — including 14 freshmen — this season.
“The success to our season lies in how quickly we can develop and mesh as a team. Our second key will be taking care of the basketball,” said O’Malley, whose squad was 12-8 last season.
Coach Adam Lynch has an experienced team on his hands and returns nine players — including five starters — from last year’s squad.
“Our strength is our depth, positional balance, and ability to shoot the three,” he said.
Leading the way will be senior Luke Allen, a 6-3 shooting guard who was a first-team all-leaguer last year and set the school record for most 3-pointers made in a season with 67; junior Ryan Baker, a 6-4 small forward; junior Trenton Lynch, a 6-2 point guard; and junior Matthew Attalah, a 6-2 small forward. Key newcomers are sophomore Cameron English, a 6-6 center, and sophomore Jack Allen, a 6-1 shooting guard and brother of Luke.
“Our goal is to play hard, play smart and play together. Our teams are typically characterized by team defense and sharing the ball on offense,” Lynch said.
The Eagles, who posted a 12-12 record last season, were 3-2 at press time.