In their foray into 3A KingCo basketball last season, Redmond High’s boys and girls squads both leaped into the postseason playoffs.
The Mustangs lost some tough games in those tourneys to end their seasons, and they’re using those experiences as catalysts to notch some victories from the get-go.
During practice on Monday, the teams were bouncing around the court with heaps of energy that they hope will translate into KingCo success and a return to the playoffs.
Senior point guard Maclain Forseth smiles when thinking about the close games, which he finds enjoyable. However, he’d like to change the final score on some of those contests.
“After losing a couple of those close games, it definitely makes me wanna get back out there and play those teams again this year — and get back at it and get a win this time. Especially that LW one doesn’t sit too well,” Forseth, a 6-footer, said about the boys’ overtime loss to Lake Washington in the playoffs.
Redmond started 2-7 last year and finished 11-11 overall, and coach Todd Rubin sees a lesson to be learned when pondering those initial games.
“Getting off to a quicker start and really taking advantage of those early games, whether they’re league or nonleague,” Rubin said of how he’d like his team to tip things off.
The Mustangs, who finished 9-5 in league last season, graduated eight seniors and have two other top returners in Carson Brown, a 6-foot senior shooting guard, and Phil Bury, a 6-3 junior forward.
Rubin said the players are coachable, scrappy and have a lot of heart. They also shoot the ball well, can create open space in transition and play solid on the defense end.
Brown feels that if he steps up as a team leader, he can make a difference in the closing minutes of important games.
Rubin has instilled the love of the game into Brown’s mindset.
“You’re only gonna have Redmond on your chest for ‘X’ amount of games, you gotta play with passion and energy,” he said.
Forseth said he’s looking forward to playing in front of the loud Redmond Super Fans and making it past the KingCo tourney this time. He’s been around Redmond basketball nearly his whole life, from watching his sister and others play for the Mustangs to playing recreation and select ball.
“Growing up and going to all the games, and watching all those older guys play on that court, just made me look forward to it,” he said. “It went by quick. It’s already my senior year — it’s crazy.”
Other players to watch for on the Redmond squad are: Darej Khabani, a 5-10 junior point guard; Aidan Rolfs, a 6-6 sophomore forward; Jared Taylor, a 6-1 senior wing; Carson Bruener, a 6-3 sophomore power forward; Isaiah Vannoy, a 6-6 senior center; and Jack Thompson, a 5-11 senior wing.
Mackenzie Ault and Andrea Dang are coming off a solid Mustang soccer season this fall. Kiki Milloy helped pitch and hit her Redmond softball squad to a 3A state title last spring.
This trio of athletes is set to apply those successes to the basketball court in the competitive 3A KingCo Conference. Judging from the looks in their eyes and smiles on their faces — it’s go time.
“Our focus is gonna be defense and getting scrappy, pressing as much as we can,” said coach Ashley Graham, noting that the Mustangs’ loss to Juanita to end their season in the KingCo tourney last year is a building block to reap success this season.
Redmond, which finished 9-5 in KingCo and 13-11 overall last year, didn’t lose any players to graduation, which is a rarity in prep basketball, Graham said.
“We’re excited and so we’re trying to build up from the end of last year instead of restarting,” she added. “Now, we’re really looking to compete for the KingCo title. It’s gonna be tough — it’s a tough league.”
Along with Ault (a 5-10 senior post), Dang (a 5-3 senior point guard) and Milloy (a 5-11 junior forward), the Mustangs feature other top players in Teagyn Ohrt (a 6-0 senior guard/post), Meghan Egberg (a 5-11 senior guard) and Samantha Castanos (a 5-9 sophomore guard). However, the Mustangs will be without the services of senior Cami Kieneker, who tore her ACL; and junior Barbora Sutara, who no longer attends Redmond.
Graham said that Ault, a goalkeeper on the soccer field, should grab some rebounds and get her teammates fired up; Dang is a solid ballhandler; Milloy shines on offense and defense; Ohrt and Castanos can score big; and Egberg provides vital leadership.
“We’re super excited and full of energy, we’re ready for a great season,” Ault said. “We’ve been building this chemistry. I know the core group of people, we’ve been playing together since fourth grade. (And) it’s great having these new additions.”
Dang said the team is looking to build on that team chemistry and is thrilled to have a wealth of returners on board. While she’s been the shortest player for most of her career, that doesn’t faze her when she’s bringing the ball up court among the taller players. She gets the job done and likes teaming up with Milloy to put some points on the board.
Speaking of Milloy, Dang said, “Kiki brings a lot of intensity and we all wanna rise to her level of play.”
Moving from the softball diamond to the basketball court, Milloy added, “You’ve still gotta have the same mindset, just going hard all the time and trusting your teammates.”