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Eagles hope to 'finish off improvement'
By CASEY OLSON
The seniors on the Federal Way High School girls basketball team have been through a roller coaster ride during their Eagle careers.
Their first taste of high school basketball two years ago saw them finish with a dreadful 0-20 record as sophomores. Last year, things improved to the tune of an 11-7 record and a berth into the postseason.
This is an exciting year for our seniors, said head coach Karin Weberg. Last year we went to the playoffs and we hope to finish off that improvement this year. Our success is a testament to the character of the kids in our program for the past three years.
The Eagles will feature six seniors this season, including point guard Chelsea White, forward Morgan Swanberg, wings Brittany Bennett, Ciera Dixon and Rachael Christenson and forward Pam Butler.
White is the Eagles leading returning scorer at eight points a game and Bennett averaged over seven.
This years seniors will be able to reflect on a career that has come full-circle, Weberg said.
The 2004-05 edition of the Eagles will rely heavily on the defensive side of the ball to win games. Federal Way has a plethora of quick, in-between wing players and not much size in the post, according to Weberg.
The Eagles lost a lot of their offensive punch from a season ago with the graduation of Christine Kim and Shelby Avaava. The pair was Federal Ways two leading scorers and were both first-team All-South Puget Sound League South Division selections. Both are now playing at Highline Community College.
We will make up for it with big hearts, Weberg said.
Also helping is Todd Beamer junior transfer Selena Dickerson, sophomore guard Bree Rowe and junior forward Jenna Warren. As a sophomore, Dickerson led the Titans in scoring at 12 points a game and tallied 23 in the Eagles season-opening win over Auburn Wednesday.
Curtis, who won the SPSL South championship a season ago, should again be the favorite in the 10-team league. The Vikings return Washington State-signee Ebonee Coates, who led the league in blocks and rebounds last year.
Federal Way opened their SPSL South season last night against the Puyallup Vikings and travel to Spanaway Lake Tuesday.
The Titan girls basketball team is aiming high this season. Todd Beamer and head coach Tiffany Rutter are shooting for one of the SPSL Souths five postseason berths. A playoff appearance would be quite an improvement from last years inaugural 1-19 season at Beamer.
We have a young team with high energy and intensity, Rutter said.
The Titans are still a young team, with only one senior on their roster, despite returning most of their team from last year. The only exception is leading scorer Selena Dickerson, who transferred to Federal Way.
Leading the list of returners are sophomores Gena Woodke, a 5-foot-11 post, and Kelli Calvin, a 5-7 guard. Woodke averaged seven points and seven rebounds as a freshman last year and Calvin chipped in four points and three rebounds a game.
Other returners are senior Jessica Franz, juniors Paradise Ramsey, Rachel Thatcher and Ashley Hillstead. Rutter is also looking for big things from 5-11 sophomore center Kiara Schaffer. Other newcomers include freshmen Jordan Salisbury, Janae Fueston and Kaylah Scott.
They have a good work ethic, but everything else is to be determined, Rutter said.
Raider head coach Jerry Krueger enters his second season at the helm of the TJ girls basketball program with optimism. Thats what happens when you return six players who all started at least five games last year during a 1-19 season and win your opener over Tahoma Wednesday night.
We will be much improved, Krueger said. We are working extremely hard to come back from a difficult season last year.
Leading the list of returners will be senior guard Kalei Frank. Frank led the Raiders in scoring last season at 8.65 points a game. Also back are junior center Jessica Foster (four points, five rebounds), sophomore guard Michelle Borth (three points, three rebounds), senior guard Lisa Clark (three points), senior forward Kelli Brown (three points, three rebounds) and senior forward Larissa Smith (three points, three rebounds).
The Raiders also have a solid group of newcomers that includes juniors Kerri Blegen, Monica Copsey and Liz Phillips, sophomores Jill Halvorsen and Brittany Creek and freshman guard Jillian Rasmussen.
We are still very young and we will make young mistakes at times, Krueger said.
The Raiders opened their SPSL South season last night against the Bethel Braves.
First-year coach Brad Tait has his work cut out for him. The Gators basically lost all of their scoring and rebounding from a team that finished 12-6 in the SPSL South.
Gone are first-team All-SPSL forward Kamrica Ary-Turner, who led the league in scoring at over 17 points a game, guard Nicole Collins (eight points, four assists) and forward Amanda Font (10 points, eight rebounds).
Ary-Turner is currently playing at Evergreen State College and Font and Collins are playing soccer in college.
Decaturs leading returning scorer is senior Kendra Jefferson, who tallied 13 points in 11 games last year. The only other girl on the current roster to score a point last season was senior Ashley Humphries, who had four.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com