The learning curve will be steep, no doubt about it.
While the Friday Harbor girls basketball team will take the court for the 2012-13 season as defending Northwest 1A/2B League champ, it will be without that trio of four-year players (Nash, Taylor, Turnbull) who carried the team on their collective back and, after bouncing back from a mid-season slump, strung together six-straight victories en route to claiming the league title, the team’s second championship in three years.
But that was then.
Only one senior from the last year’s starting lineup, Jean Melborne, returns to the roster. Still, Head Coach Eric Jangard says there’s no need to hit the panic button. In fact, Jangard, now is his seventh year at the helm, welcomes the chance to instill a new core of players with the fundamentals of what’s proven to be a winning program.
“I think we’ll get better as the season gets going,” he said, “but right now we’re still building on the basics. This is a great group of girls, and our goal mainly is to learn to play the game together. Our expectations have to be realistic.”
Hampered by early season illnesses and ineligibilities, the Wolverines came up short on the offensive end in the first three games of the season, managing no more than 30 points in each. Still, the team is not without experience or proven assets, and expects to be back at full strength and more finely-tuned by mid-December.
In addition to Melborne, a fierce competitor and all-league softball pitcher, junior Tabatha Keane, the team’s starting post-player of a year ago, is back to anchor the interior. Speedy junior Emily Guard is expected to inherit the point-guard duties, while Mindy Brandli and Kendra Meeker, both juniors, will shore up the wings.
The addition of 6-foot sophomore Tyla McKay and 6-foot freshman Allie Galt, as well as 5-foot 10-inch freshman Katie Kincaid, should provide Friday Harbor with an imposing, if not a truly battle-tested, front court. Junior Alaina Scheffer, sophomore Madden Shanks and freshman Taylor Turnbull will share duty in the backcourt.
Friday Harbor launches into the heart of its 1A regional competition starting Dec. 28, hosting Mount Baker, which joins the cast of 1A opponents this season, along with the Blaine Borderites, a squad described by Jangard as “phenomenal, equal to Lynden Christian”.
Jangard and company are resisting to the urge to look too far ahead, however.
“What we’ve talked about is getting the little wins, and how those little wins add up to bigger wins,” he said. “We’re just going to play it possession by possession.”
— Scott Rasmussen