La Center big-time favorites, plus tidbits on all Clark County 2A and 1A teams
Class 2A Greater St. Helens League
The defending league champion still has the reigning player of the year, so yes, Washougal has to be considered a favorite. However, this league has a lot of talent and potential.
Here are some notes on Clark County’s teams in the 2A GSHL:
Can’t complain about that record. Not after a coaching change. Not after graduation took a couple of all-league performers off the roster.
New team. New coach. Strong start.
“We learned more and more about the pace we have to play at,” coach Will Jones said of the first full month together. “I had to learn their strengths and weaknesses so we could play at a faster pace. We’re rounding out where we need to be. There was a learning curve. It clicked right around the first couple of league games.”
The Chieftains have a balanced scoring attack, which makes them tough to defend, Jones said.
Liz Canton, Jordan Ryan, Erin Baker, and Sydney Flores-Tucker all are around 8-10 points per game. Katie Kolbe leads the team in rebounds.
“The first month has been an education for the team and myself,” coach Damon Roche said.
There were losses to Union, Camas, and an overtime loss in the San Diego tournament that the Hawks either led or closed the gap.
“It proved to me we have fight in us,” Roche said. “We just need more experience, ASAP.”
Roche said he believes he has the best guard duo in the 2A GSHL with seniors Payton Wangler and Grace Russell. Then again, the Hawks also have seven new varsity players.
It will make for an interesting mix.
Roche added there is a lot of parity in the league, which means a number of teams could compete for the title.
“I have learned that we are really young and inexperienced. We will struggle, but it is now a question of keeping them motivated in the face of adversity. We are streaky, which comes with the territory of inexperience,” Ridgefield coach Tom Klutz said. “You need all 10 players at a practice and a game who are healthy, able to play, and not sick.”
The coach added he has not had one day all season when every varsity player was able to go full speed.
Dev Dugan is leading the team in scoring at 12.5 points per game. Karli Oliver leads in rebounds and Kylie Greenwald is the top assist player on the squad.
There was a three-game losing streak in December, but the Panthers bounced back to win three in a row, including the first two league games. Yes, Washougal has every intention of defending its league title.
“We are seeing the 2A GSHL continues to be a very competitive league, top to bottom,” new coach Britney Knotts said. “When we play confident, we give ourselves a lot of great opportunities.
“Teams have been coming at us hard because of who we are and where we have been the last couple of years. This team trusts each other, and there is chemistry. … We are looking forward to defending our league title over the next month.”
Beyonce Bea is averaging close to 18 points per game. She also leads the team in rebounds, steals, and blocked shots. She is, after all, Beyonce Bea. Kiara Cross leads the team in assists.
The Beavers have gone win, loss, win, loss, win in their last five games. But this is Woodland basketball we’re writing about, so we know a few wins in a row is all but a certainty in the near future.
Their coach believes, too.
“I feel we are a lot more mature than last year at this time. We play real hard,” Glen Flanagan said.
He wants his team to value each possession more as the season progresses.
Nicole Guthrie leads the team with 12.3 points and almost nine rebounds per game. McKenna Flanagan leads the team in assists.
La Center had no trouble winning this league last year and with just about everyone back, gotta pencil in La Center again. King’s Way Christian is having a great start to its season, too.
Here are notes from Clark County’s teams in the Trico League:
It is 188 miles from the campus of King’s Way Christian to the SunDome, home of the Class 1A state basketball tournament. The Knights have “188” on their warm-up jerseys.
It’s true that the girls program at King’s Way has never made it to state, but gotta believe before one can achieve.
That’s the philosophy of new coach Randy Graves.
“We plan to go into each contest with the mindset that you are in for a battle with the Knights each and every game,” Graves said. “We play clean, we play hard, and we play tough.”
The team is averaging 48 points per game with a balanced attack. Defense has keyed the strong start to the campaign.
Oh, and this team is built for the future, too. Eight juniors, two sophomores and five freshmen in the program. Hannah Moats, Tyra Schroeder, Kira Zook, Lacey Zook and Abby Cummins are the starters.
La Center (8-1)
The Wildcats expect to win the Trico League again but they have bigger goals in mind.
La Center coach Herm VanWeerdhuizen said the team is more prepared this year. The players understand this is a golden opportunity, with almost everyone back from the state tournament team in 2017.
“I can tell in practice they are more focused,” the coach said.
Leading scorer varies each game. Taylor Stephens is the leader overall. Molly Edwards was hurt the first few weeks but is coming around again. Taylor Mills is the top rebounder. Then Whitley Seter and Bethany Whitten are still doing all the little things that make a good team great.
The Cougars have had a tough start to the season as the program tries to gets some stability.
Jasmine Morgan, Cheyanne Badger, and Emma Watkins have all had big games or big moments for the Cougars this season.