Nets are being bombarded with basketballs, sneakers are squeaking up and down the court and deft hands are whipping passes to teammates and snatching rebounds.
Here’s what the Overlake and Bear Creek teams have to offer for fans this season.
Coach Justin Prohn’s squad finished 9-3 in the 1A Emerald City League and 16-6 overall last year, made the bi-district playoffs for the fourth consecutive year and was RPI-ranked eighth by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association at the close of the regular season.
At press time, the Owls were off to a 2-2 overall start and notched some solid wins over Concrete and Darrington.
Prohn, whose Owls lost in the bi-district semifinals last year, said this season’s squad is a “fun group to coach that is still coming together as a team. They like to compete and I am expecting this group to improve throughout the season.”
Leading the way are returners Tellier Lundquist, a 6-foot senior who averaged 10 points per game last year; Bryce DeLay, a 6-foot-4 senior; Trey Rudolph, a 6-foot junior; and Zach Foster, a 5-foot-8 junior.
Other key returning contributors are seniors Trent Gardner and Connor Tarbet and sophomores Nico Moore and Shivish Ummat. Vital newcomers senior Ben Kummert, junior Felix Huang and freshmen Oliver Thomas and Alan Ngouenet.
Prohn said it “should be an interesting season as the Emerald City League continues to improve every year. Northwest, Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences and Bear Creek will have strong teams this season.”
First-year coach Courtney Hellem steps into the Overlake fold and has guided the team to a 2-2 overall start at press time.
“This is a solid Overlake team and the ability to press with quick guards and a 6-4 shot-blocking post, sophomore Eliza Friend, upgrades the Owls’ defense,” Hellem said.
Other top returners include senior co-captains, Holly Harris and all-leaguer Amanda Lin, and sophomore guard Annabelle Wiley. Impact freshmen include Jane Cosmos and Jamison Foster.
The Owls finished 8-8 in league and 9-11 overall last year and won an Emerald City wildcard playoff game to advance to bi-districts.
If they can stay healthy, Hellem feels the Owls can contend for the league title.
“We are learning that teams will get up for playing us. We have the potential to be strong but we have to win every loose ball, focus on every practice, prepare well for every opponent, in order become the best team we can be,” she said.
Bear Creek sports a young group of players who are talented and working hard, according to coach Tyler Mendezona. He’s excited to see how the Grizzlies match up against Emerald City League opponents this season.
Last year, they finished 6-6 in league and 10-11 overall. The small team fought hard, and dealt with many injuries, but Mendezona felt that overall the team overachieved.
At press time, the gritty Grizzlies were off to a 1-1 overall start and are led by Trevor McRae, a 5-11 junior guard, and Jace Blankenbeckler, a 6-1 sophomore point guard.
“We can shoot pretty well, so it’ll help to knock down shots. The guys are learning how to play together and they’re taking it one day at a time,” the coach said.
By starting off the season with a win over Sultan, Grizzly coach Ali Mendezona feels that “has given them the motivation to work harder and be the best they can be.”
At press time, the Grizzlies were 1-1 overall and are eager to notch some more wins, the coach added.
Top returners are Alyson Wong, a senior point guard (9.9 points, 3.8 steals and 2.4 assists per game last year) and Delaney Montgomery, a senior post (6.6 points, 11.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game last year). In 2016-17, Bear Creek finished 6-10 in league and 6-13 overall.
Mendezona said the girls are competing hard and they aim to leave everything on the court each game.
“I’m so lucky to be able to coach such an amazing group of girls. We faced a lot of tough games last year, but the way these girls learned from them is truly amazing to see,” the coach said.