A few years ago, the Friday Harbor High School girls basketball team had height on its side, according to coach Fred Woods. This year, the team has height, but their real advantage is speed.
“One thing that really makes this team different is that there isn’t a go-to person,” Woods said. “We have some great shooters, and others that are good from the inside, but all of them are really fast.”
Woods has coached the girls basketball team for three years but instructed boys teams before moving to the islands in 2007. When the position for a girls coach opened up, he decided to go for it. Basketball, he said has always been one of his first loves.
Each team has its own characteristic, and this season, he said, players have no problem working together and sharing the ball. Many of the girls have played together since the fifth grade.
Another bonus of this group is the five strong players who are returning, Savanah Hoffman, Kiana Woods, and Ella Hu. The girls are all seniors this year and, according to Woods, have done a great job leading the team. Juniors Ava Hoffman and Leah Black are also powerful members of the team, he added, with significant playing time under their belts. All five of these players were starters at least once last year. The girls are itching to make it state, and they have chosen to take a day-by-day strategy to get there.
“They decided their main goal is simply to do better tomorrow than they did today. When you do that, whatever the outcome, you are able to say you did your best at the end of the year,” Woods said.
With that mindset, he added, the girls know whatever the final score is, they can be happy knowing they gave it their all.
The biggest challenges in the league will be La Conner and Orcas, he said. Both teams are well coached. La Conner is almost always a formidable opponent since the students there have a lot of offseason game time to hone their skills. Basketball is a favorite past time there, according to Woods. The non-league games, however, have him more concerned.
“We have a tough non-conference schedule this year,” he said, explaining that since Friday Harbor is in a small league, the Wolverines must play a few games against schools not in the same league to make sure enough games were played. Mount Baker, Sequim and this year both the girls and boys Friday Harbor teams will be heading to Juneau, Alaska. The girls will be traveling north on Dec. 26, and leaving Dec. 30, playing three games in those four days, according to Woods. That gives them one day to explore and relax. Woods and the team are looking forward to the adventure regardless of the tournament outcome.
The girls won, 44 to 33, against Clallam Bay Friday, Dec. 1 for their first home game.
The “Tip-off Classic,” took place Saturday, Dec. 2 in Friday Harbor, where the Wolverines competed tournament style with Wilson and South Whidbey.
The Rams won their game against the Wolverines, 61 to 19.
“Win or lose, these girls love playing together,” said Woods, ”That’s what makes this a great team.”
The next home game is Dec. 15 at 5:30 p.m. against Mount Vernon Christian.