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Raiders, Eagles ready for another run at the postseason
The Thomas Jefferson girls basketball team brings back most of their roster from a season ago. And that might be bad news for the rest of the teams in the South Puget Sound League North Division.
The Raiders finished the 2007-08 season with a 7-7 record in the SPSL North, which was good for fourth place in the division, and 16-10 overall. Jefferson beat Rogers at the SPSL Tournament and upset Bethel in the first-round of West Central Districts before losing two-straight games to Mount Tahoma and Rogers.
“We expect to be fighting for one of the five playoff berths,” said head coach Jerry Krueger. “We have nine players with varsity experience and we return five players who started at some point last year.”
Junior guard Hannah Kiyohara leads the list of returners after leading the Raiders in scoring a season ago. As a sophomore, Kiyohara averaged 11.1 points a game and was solid all season long for TJ. The 5-8 Kiyohara scored in double digits in 17 of their 25 games and was a scoring machine during the Raiders’ postseason run. She averaged 16 points a game during TJ’s five playoff games, including 23 in a win over Rogers at the SPSL Tournament.
The Raiders will also rely heavily on the inside play of senior Stacy Albrecht. The 6-foot-1 post player averaged 6.3 points a game last season and scored in double digits five times. Albrecht has already signed on to play next season at Central Washington University.
Also returning will be seniors Samantha Pham, Ariel Holman, Keely Nelson-Rivers, Jayme Carbon and Liz Fitch and juniors Unique Taufa’asau and Karen Carpenter. Taufa’asau averaged 6.8 points a game last season and scored in double digits in six of the Raiders’ last eight games of the season. Nelson-Rivers averaged 3.8 points a game.
Krueger will also be counting on newcomers Amanda Miller and Becca Gasca.
Krueger sees the strengths of this year’s team coming on the defensive side of the ball and the vast amount of experience the roster has. The one weakness he sees, is the tendency for some players to get into foul trouble.
“We need to keep our scorers and team leaders on the floor when games are on the line,” Krueger said. “We also need to stay healthy and stay out of foul trouble.”
Federal Way Eagles
The Eagles surprised a lot of people last year by finishing second in the South Puget Sound League North Division with an 11-3 record.
But Federal Way isn’t going to sneak up on anybody this year.
Last season, the Eagles and head coach Danny Graham featured a lineup that included three freshman starters. Even with the inexperience, Federal Way came within one game of qualifying for the Class 4A State Girls Basketball Tournament. The Eagles lost to Graham-Kapowsin, 58-44, in a loser-out game at the West Central District Tournament.
All three freshmen starters will be back for the Eagles this season, including 6-foot-1 Talia Walton.
Walton was a first-team, All-SPSL North selection a season ago after averaging 14 points and 12.5 rebounds during the regular season. She also led Federal Way in shooting percentage at 44.4 percent. Walton was unable to play in the Eagles’ season-ending game against Graham-Kapowsin after suffering a knee cap injury earlier at the district tournament.
Also back will be sophomore Brittany Barrington, who did everything on the court for Federal Way. The 5-foot-5 guard averaged 13.3 points, 7.15 rebounds and two steals a game. The second-team All-SPSL North selection also was the Eagles’ most prolific 3-point shooter, leading the team with 22 made.
Federal Way will also be counting heavily on senior wing Jacqie Evenson. The 5-11 Evenson can do it all on the basketball court and averaged 11.4 points a game and had three 20-point games. She also brought the ball up the court most of the time and led Federal Way in assists with over four a game. Evenson also averaged 7.5 rebounds a game.
Also returning for the Eagles will be sophomore guard Chantel Dixon, sophomore forward Tyshana Burgess, senior Joanne Packer and junior guard Molly Campbell. Dixon averaged six points a game last year and Campbell chipped in about two points.
Burgess led the Eagles with 17 points during a 62-40 win over Rogers Tuesday night.
The Gators are hoping to improve on last year’s season and will join the South Puget Sound League South Division. Decatur finished just 1-18 overall and was 0-14 in the SPSL North. The Gators’ lone win came over Forks in a non-league game.
Decatur’s biggest problem was scoring points on the offensive end of the court. The Gators averaged just under 40 points a game as a team and scored in the 20s or below six times during the season.
But Decatur and head coach Kevin Rawie return a lot of players from last year’s team, including leading scorer Sarah Quantz. The guard averaged 11.2 points a game and had nine double-digit outings, including 25 points against Forks.
Also back are Jade Woodke (4.5 points a game), Yonnie Coleman (6.3 a game), Denisha Green (4.8 a game), Tenea Holcomb (7.2 a game) and Sarah Isaac (3.6 a game).
The Gators have dropped their opening three games of the season to Forks, Mount Rainier and Tahoma. Forks beat Decatur in overtime on Nov. 29, 48-45. Quantz is leading the Gators at 12 points a game, while Woodke is scoring six.
The Todd Beamer Titans hope to improve on last year’s 5-15 record and will have to do it with a new coach. Heather Sugg takes over this year for Tiffany Rutter, who was the head coach since Beamer opened its doors.
The Titans lost their two leading scorers from a season ago in Kaylah Scott and Mikki Akins. But Beamer does bring back plenty of varsity experience. Leading the list of returners is senior guard Missy Canfield, who averaged six points a game last year and is coming back from surgery in June. Also back are Mercedes Sullivan (3.3 a game) an Taylor Winton.
Sugg will also be counting on newcomers Shyla Akins, Katay Bixenman, Lillian Hampton, Maddie Wood, Jessica Sutcliff, Diana Vykovanets and freshman Meghan Graf.
“We are going to play strong, hard defense,” Sugg said. “Defense wins games.”
The Titans opened their SPSL South season on last night against Emerald Ridge and host Central Kitsap Tuesday in a non-league game.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com