A walk in the park? Far from it.
For the Friday Harbor girls basketball team, competition at the 2B level means going toe-to-toe with some of the state’s toughest teams in both the 2B and 1B divisions, and with the outcome of each and every game having impact on its position in the Northwest 2B/1B League standings and on its prospects of post-season play.
Mount Vernon Christian lost only one starter from a team that finished last season as runner-up in the 1B state tournament. La Conner’s Anna Cook, league MVP a year ago, returns for a senior season, as does Shoreline Christian senior Sarah Ott, a prolific scorer since her freshman year. Orcas and Darrington promise to be no pushover as well.
“It’s a really strong league,” Head Coach Eric Jangard said. “It’s going to be a tough road.”
And, that’s a rough road ahead even when–or if–the Wolverines get to full strength. Friday Harbor enters the season with two of its top players, 6-foot junior Allie Galt (ankle) and 5-foot 11-inch sophomore Hayden Mayer (hip), either sidelined or playing limited minutes because of respective injuries.
Still, once the two are both on the court, joining junior Madie Kincaid on the front line, Friday Harbor will have one the tallest, athletic and more battle-tested lineups of all seven teams gunning for 2014-15 league title. Coming off last year’s up and down performance (the Wolverines were 8-14 a year ago) Jangard, now in his 9th year at the helm, is eager to have all the pieces of that would-be starting lineup in place.
“If we can get the two of those girls healthy we can put some of our length to work,” he said.
In addition to height and experience in the paint, Friday Harbor should benefit from having a pair of savvy ball-handlers and proven scorers in the backcourt. The team’s only senior, Madden Shanks, is an offensive threat off the dribble and from beyond the 3-point arc, and junior Taylor Turnbull, steeled by extensive playing time last year, inherits the point-guard position and will run the show.
With sophomore Lili Wood in the starting rotation, the Wolverines will also have synchronicity on their side, as 4-of-5 starters (Galt included) played together on the volleyball team.
What the Wolverines don’t have a great deal of, however, is depth. Sophomores Alexa Mora and Hannah Hopkins will be first off the bench and into the game in backup roles, and after that, the duty falls into the hands of three freshmen making a debut on the varsity squad this season, Savannah Hoffman, Ella Hu and Kiana Woods.
The Wolverines opened the season with back-to-back games in the Friday Harbor Tip-off Classic, Dec. 5-6. After that, it’s a two-game season series, 12 league games in all, one home and one on the road, against each of the team’s six league rivals in just two months time, beginning with the Ott-led Crusaders at home, Dec. 9, followed by a road trip to Concrete, and then back home to battle the Loggers, Dec. 16.
— Scott Rasmussen