Forks’ Bailey Johnson, right, drives along the baseline as teammate Fynlie Peters, left, defends against Port Angeles’ Morgan Politika last week in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Forks’ Bailey Johnson, right, drives along the baseline as teammate Fynlie Peters, left, defends against Port Angeles’ Morgan Politika last week in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

GIRLS BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Forks looks to blend youth, veterans in league title defense

Career scoring record also in play for Keira Johnson

FORKS — Forks is focused on growing together as a team after one of the better seasons in Spartans’ girls basketball history in 2022 produced 18 wins, a share of the Pacific League title, district wins and a spot in the state regional round.

This time out, the Spartans are a mix of the experienced along with some relative newcomers to the varsity game.

“Right now we are young, super young and we are not deep,” coach David Hurn said. “We have seven girls right now that we feel pretty strong about, and we have other girls that don’t have a ton of high school basketball experience, so we are trying to create that depth.”

Forks does have a potential Pacific League MVP in wing Keira Johnson returning for her senior season.

Johnson crossed the 1,000-point barrier for her high school career during district play last season and, barring injury, is likely to set the Spartans’ all-time leading scoring mark sometime this season. She’s already had scoring outings of 31 points against Crescent and 33 against North Beach so far.

Junior forward Chloe Gaydeski-St. John is back in the starting lineup, and Forks also returns Johnson’s younger sister Bailey, who saw plenty of varsity playing time as an eighth grader last season.

Janessa Ramos is back in the Forks backcourt for her senior season and will be part of a multi-player effort to distribute the ball.

“Bailey, Keira and Janessa will handle the ball a lot, but there won’t be a dedicated point guard,” Hurn said. “In losing Kadie Wood [Peninsula College] and Kyra Neel [to graduation], we can’t find two girls to plug and play. It will take a team effort to match what they produced.”

Freshman Avery Dilley is starting at the post for Forks.

“She’s going to be a strong player for us stepping into Kyra’s position,” Hurn said. “She’s really athletic. Everybody else is out on the perimeter.”

Senior post Brynn Daniels also could play a role in the Spartans’ run this season.

“Brynn Daniels tore her ACL playing volleyball in 2022, and we’re slowly easing her back into things with the idea she is available later in the season or in the postseason.

Freshmen Fynlie Peters and Karee Neel have been around the program for years through their older sisters Rian and Kyra, and will contribute.

“They have a lot of talent, there are days I have to tell myself they are freshman,” Hurn said.

“We have to have realistic expectations, as long as they keep growing we will be better at the end of the year.

“We’ve challenged ourselves with a tough nonleague schedule, we have to be able to fail to succeed.

The lumps we take now will pay off for us in February and March.”

League-wise, Raymond had low numbers after losing reigning league MVP Carson Freeman who transferred to Adna. Raymond has combined with South Bend.

“They’ll have good depth and play an aggressive style of basketball,” Hurn said. “Ilwaco has returning talent and a league championship pedigree, but I think we have a realistic chance, especially with our youth.”

Forks Spartans

• Head coach: David Hurn

• Last season: 10-2, 18-8 overall. Tied for Pacific League championship, qualified for state regional round, first state trip since 2007.

• Returners: Keira Johnson (sr., W, 5-10); Janessa Ramos (sr., W, 5-5); Chloe Gaydeski-St. John (so., W, 5-9);; Brynn Daniels (sr., P, 5-9); Bailey Johnson (fr., W, 5-6).

• Newcomers: Avery Dilley (fr., P, 5-11); Karee Neel (fr., G, 5-5); Fynlie Peters (fr., F, 5-8).

• Outlook: With a number of freshmen expected to provide valuable minutes, Hurn belives his team will suffer some growing pains but will be at their best toward the end of the season. To that end, Forks schedule is full of challenges. The Spartans already have faced three 2022 state tournament teams in Port Angeles, Rainier and Neah Bay and also will face a second game with the Red Devils and another 1B state team in Mount Vernon Christian.

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