Sports

New coach hopes to keep Raiders in postseason hunt

By CASEY OLSON

Sports editor

Jerry Krueger hopes to keep things rolling at Thomas Jefferson.

Krueger takes over the Raider program from Mike Grady after two straight appearances at the Class 4A State Basketball Championships — the only two in the school’s history. Grady resigned after accepting the athletic director position at TJ.

Krueger had been the boys and girls coach at Kilo Middle School for the past six years and also was the head coach at Renton High School for three years.

The Raiders finished 19-9 last year and 13-3 in the South Puget Sound League South Division, but graduated their entire starting lineup from that team. So Krueger will be counting on a lot of inexperience entering the season.

Leading the list of returners will be junior point guard Kalei Frank. Frank saw some significant action for the Raiders as a sophomore. Also returning will be seniors Lindsay Radford, Kelli Stoffel and Trichell Waldo.

“Solid defense and rebounding will keep (us) in every game,” Krueger said.

Jefferson will be getting some height inside with newcomers Kelli Brown, Jessica Foster and Larissa Smith and defensive pressure from freshman guard Michelle Borth and juniors Lisa Clark and Amanda Reed.

Krueger sees the Raiders finishing in the top-five in the South Puget Sound League South Division. Puyallup should be the team to beat again in the South. The Vikings finished 14-2 last year — one game in front of the second-place Raiders.

Decatur

The Decatur Gators hope to get over the hump in the 2003-04 season.

The Gators return several players from a team that rolled into the West Central District Tournament after finishing in a tie for fourth in the South Puget Sound League South with a 9-7 record.

But Decatur will be doing it with a new coach. Kevin Estes was hired late in the summer to take over for Colby Rogers, who is currently coaching at Kent-Meridian High School. Estes has coached several girls programs around the state, including Kamiakin in Kennewick.

“Being new to the program and the SPSL, as well as being hired too late in the summer to work with the players, my understanding of this team and its relative position in the league is really superficial at this point,” Estes said.

The Gators are just starting to get into the flow of the basketball season, according to Estes. Several of Decatur’s key players were a part of the Gators’ third-place soccer team. The soccer season ended a week after basketball practice had begun.

“Once the season gets going, I’ll have a clearer overall understanding of my team and our opponents,” Estes said.

Estes has one player he will be counting heavily on in guard Kamrica Ary-Turner.. The senior was first team All SPSL South last year, averaging 14 points a game for the Gators.

Decatur opens SPSL South play Friday at Emerald Ridge.

Beamer

Tiffany Rutter has quite a task in front of her entering the first-ever season for girl’s basketball at Todd Beamer High School. Rutter and her Titans are being thrown into the rugged South Puget Sound League South Division with no seniors.

But Rutter and the rest of the Beamer program are excited about the opportunity to play against the best.

“Tough times never last, but tough people do,” Rutter quoted.

Rutter will be relying on sophomore forward Selena Dickerson, who showed she could compete in the SPSL South during the volleyball season. Outside of Dickerson, the Titans will use a lot of hustle and athletic ability to overcome their lack of experience.

Beamer opens its SPSL South season Friday night at home against Spanaway Lake.

Federal Way

Things can only get better for the Federal Way girl’s basketball program — the Eagles suffered through an 0-20 season last season. But coach Karin Weberg is optimistic entering the 2003-04 South Puget Sound League South Division season.

“This is another terrific group of young ladies with impressive character,” said Weberg, who is coaching while on maternity leave after having a son, Max, in September with husband, John Meagher. “Additionally, they are athletic and possess individual talents, which compliment one another nicely.”

Weberg will be counting on a pair of seniors and a junior to carry a lot of the load for the Eagles, who will be a fast and hard-working squad. Seniors Shelby Avaava and Whitney Goff and junior Chelsea White return from the last year’s squad. Avaava (nine points, five rebounds a game last year) is the best all-around player and will play on both the perimeter and in the post and Goff and White will provide scoring for the Eagles. Weberg will also be counting on newcomers Christine Kim and Brittany Bennett.

“We just need continued 100 percent effort from the entire Eagle team,” Weberg said.

The Eagles’ weakness will be a lack of height. The Eagles open up SPSL South play Friday at home against Puyallup.

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