Redmond High girls basketball coach Ashley Graham’s eyes light up and she moves to the edge of her seat when discussing the season that’s about to take shape for the Mustangs.
It’s an exciting time to be back in the gym and preparing for preseason contests and the tough 4A KingCo games on the horizon. All the fall, spring and summer training will now be bottled up, rolled into action and players and coaches will see what transpires in the next few months.
As the third week of practice began on Monday evening, Mustang boys coach Todd Rubin was equally thrilled to get things moving and unveil the 2019-2020 edition of his squad. Rubin’s got a quintet of solid returners who should bring leadership and experience to the floor, he said.
Graham and Rubin — both Redmond High graduates — along with seniors Whitney Thom and Aidan Rolfs gave the Reporter the lowdown on what’s on tap for the Mustangs this season.
Graham’s got a hard-working, coachable and self-motivated squad in her corner.
Led by seniors Thom (a 5-foot-11 post), Sami Castanos (a 5-foot-10 guard) and Avery Porcher (a 5-foot-9 guard), the team will focus on playing solid defense.
“We’re gonna try to mix in some zone and some man. Just kind of get ‘em moving on the floor, trying a little more high pressure than last year. Really just get in teams and try to really hold teams to a lower scoring average,” Graham said.
Thom will be an inside force, Castanos is a high-IQ player who can play inside and outside and Porcher will be a vital defender, Graham said.
The girls are putting in their maximum effort each time out and Graham said it’s inspirational to watch them hustling up and down the court. It triggers memories of her successful playing days as a Mustang.
“Even after playing pro basketball and Division I college basketball, playing for Redmond was one of my favorite basketball experiences of my whole life,” said Graham, who played for Santa Clara University and competed on the pro level overseas. “If I can give that to them, whether we win or lose, and they can have just a good, fun competitive experience, then that’s a win for me.”
Thom said that her time with the Redmond High program has been a positive experience. The senior likes what the team has to offer chemistry- and defensive-wise and she’s ready to tip the ball into play.
KingCo games provide excitement and non-stop action.
“Throughout the whole game, we’ve just gotta work our hardest. Every team that we’re gonna go against is a really good matchup. There’s gonna be no easy wins for us,” Thom said.
Tops on the roster for Redmond are seniors Rolfs (a 6-8 forward), Alec Bovee (a 6-2 guard), Jahi Coleman (a 6-2 forward) and Cameron Clum (a 6-4 center) and junior Jacob Miller (a 5-10 point guard).
Miller is a true point guard, Rubin said, adding that “he’s gonna run the show and he’s gonna get guys involved. He’s tough and he’s smart and so we’re expecting big things from him this year.”
Every Mustang has been working hard on his game and Rubin has a good mix of guys who can shoot, rebound and defend. The pieces — including a handful of newcomers — are waiting to be put together, Rubin said, adding that he thinks the talent will translate into success on the court.
Rolfs was a second-team all-4A KingCo selection last year, excelling on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.
On the offensive front, Rolfs is able to shoot well off the dribble and in the post, Rubin said.
“We’re gonna try and mix it up and get him plenty of shots,” Rubin added. “Being our best defensive player last year, he’s gonna have tough assignments every game. We’re trying to balance that to make sure he doesn’t get too tired, ‘cause he’s gonna have to be good offensively as well.”
In his third year on varsity, Rolfs said he likes the talent he sees on the court — both returners and newcomers — and he notes that team chemistry is at a premium as well.
Whether it’s during practice or in tough KingCo games, Rolfs enjoys taking the court with his teammates and building relationships with the Mustangs. The games are close on the scoreboard and that makes for a fun environment to display their skills.
“I think I’ve developed into more of an all-around player, just being on the team longer and just developed more leadership,” Rolfs said.
When discussing his goals for this season, Rolfs added: “I think I just need to be more of a vocal leader and make sure everyone’s comfortable in their roles and is able to contribute in their own ways.”