FORKS — The bad news is Forks graduated eight seniors who combined for 57 points, a host of other statistical achievements and a bunch of that biggest intangible — leadership — from an Evergreen League championship squad.
The good news is Forks boys basketball head coach Rick Gooding had plenty of players to choose from during early season tryouts.
“We are going to be young,” Gooding said. “We lack experience. We have a big junior class and a fair-sized sophomore class. But we had a good-sized turnout, more than 30 kids.
“High school is always a puzzle. You have to adapt and you can’t recruit to one specific style. But we do know that we have to play fast offensively and defensively.”
Junior post Trey Baysinger and junior guard Tony Hernandez-Flores will be counted on as players and leaders this season.
“Trey is our vocal leader and Tony is going to lead by demonstrating through his play,” Gooding said. “I don’t think it’s a shock or a surprise, they have the most experience and the most talent on the roster.
“Trey is pretty savvy, he finds ways to score. Tony has great instincts on defense. I think Tony and Trey will be fairly consistent in their averages — double figures in points and Tony in steals and Trey in rebounds.”
The Spartans lost a lot of shooting in Cort Prose and Evergreen League MVP Seth Johnson, so that will require a bit of an adjustment.
“I don’t think we are as good a shooting team, so we will have to play fast, attack the rim and score in bunches,” Gooding said.
“The big thing is selling them on we can be good right now, we don’t have to wait. One of the biggest challenges with younger kids is to raise expectations, and their coach still has some pretty high expectations.”
A large cast of varsity newcomers will compete for playing time. Many of them have starred on the soccer or football fields for Forks.
This includes seniors Oscar Gonzalez and Gabe Terrones and juniors Antonio Farias and Carter Windle.
Windle has some height at 6-foot-2, and will be playing in the post, a change for him, according to Gooding.
“He’s always been a guard and is moving to post,” Gooding said.
Junior Cody Pugh also has some height as does junior Derrick Beebe, with Gooding listing both at 6-foot-4.
Skyler Steffen, Raymond Davis and Farias all were described as “athletes,” by Gooding.
“I think I named off 14 kids that can be varsity players for us,” Gooding said.
“No guy stood out as our go-to-guy [at their Blue and Gold Scrimmage], so we will focus on true ball movement. The five guys in will find the best shot, get back on defense and repeat. There’s no this guy has to get his in. It’s going to be spread out and we will try to find the right guy in the right spot at the right time.”
Gooding said one of the best things about playing in the Evergreen League is getting all of December to figure things out in nonconference play.
“We don’t start league until January, so we have all preseason to make things better,” Gooding said.
“Montesano is probably the favorite, Hoquiam has had some things go on, so I don’t know what their roster is going to look like. Montesano returns the most talent and experience.
“Our league is so small that it’s kind of good and kind of bad. You can sneak up on a team when you only have eight league games and get a win you shouldn’t have gotten on paper.”
Gooding hopes his team grows into a contender.
“We are young, so I’m not going to say we are going to get there right away, but I think the ceiling is pretty high for us and I think we can get there.”
• Head coach: Rick Gooding, eighth season (76-72)
• Last season: 7-1, 17-6, won Evergreen League, 1-2 in district tournament.
• Returners: Trey Baysinger (jr., F, 6-1); Tony Hernandez-Flores (jr., G, 5-8); Logan Olson (so., G, 5-9); Jerrid Davis (sr., G, 5-7).
• Newcomers: Oscar Gonzalez (sr., G, 5-7); Gabe Terrones (sr., G/F, 6-0); Raymond Davis (jr., G, 5-10); Antonio Farias (jr., G, 6-0); Cody Pugh (jr. F, 6-4); Skyler Steffen (jr., F, 5-10); Kasson Tanner-Steffen (jr., G, 5-7); Carter Windle (jr., F, 6-2); Derrick Beebe (jr., P, 6-4); Riley Pursley (so., G/F 6-0).
• Outlook: Forks gets the chance to decide if this is a rebuilding or reloading season coming off an Evergreen League championship. A number of new varsity players have a December to grow together before beginning league play in January.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected].