Eric Trent/The Chronicle Forks’ Kyra Neel (35) hauls in a rebound in a Class 2B District IV playoff game against Rainier last February at Castle Rock High School. Neel returns as a four-year starter for the Forks varsity.

Eric Trent/The Chronicle Forks’ Kyra Neel (35) hauls in a rebound in a Class 2B District IV playoff game against Rainier last February at Castle Rock High School. Neel returns as a four-year starter for the Forks varsity.

GIRLS BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Talented trio will lead Forks once again

Keira Johnson, Kadie Wood and Kyra Neel all ready to compete

FORKS — Forks, led by MVP candidate Keira Johnson, returning first-team all-league pick Kadie Wood and league volleyball MVP Kyra Neel, will likely field the most talented trio in all of Pacific League girls basketball.

Whether the Spartans have enough depth to round out the remainder of the roster and push for a league championship and a district tournament run is the key question coach David Hurn and Forks will try and figure out.

“We do return a lot of talent, top-tier talent for us,” Hurn said. “We like to set high expectations and this year I think we have a really good chance of competing for a league title. The usual suspects are Ilwaco, Chief Leschi and Raymond, and we are right there.”

Johnson is a pure scorer, averaging nearly 22 points a game through much of last season.

Wood has run the point for the squad for years, can score in bunches (13.5 ppg) and rebounds like a post.

“Kadie plays taller than 5-4, she’s the motor and engine that gets us going,” Hurn said. “She will bring the energy and outrebound people much taller than her.”

Neel is a strong presence in the post, and all three are humble, hard-working kids.

“I told the team last night, ‘It’s nice to look at your first-team all-leaguers and know that nobody will outwork them at practice,” Hurn said.

Junior Janessa Ramos also returns, and Forks plans to give more minutes to freshman Chloe Gaydeski-St. John after she played in some varsity contests last season.

Johnson’s younger sister Bailey, an eighth-grader, also should see plenty of court time.

“Her speed and defense will earn her some minutes. She’s fast and athletic and is playing some great defense in practice right now,” Hurn said.

Hurn said the Spartans will remain hopeful for a later return of Brynn Daniel, a 5-foot-9 post who injured her knee during volleyball season.

With a lack of height, Forks will focus on its fleet feet and athleticism in an attempt to pester their opponents.

“Defensively, we want to create chaos and create fast-break offense out of it,” Hurn said. “We want to be annoying on defense. We don’t want people to like playing against us. We want to make them uncomfortable.

“With our lack of size, but our speed, one of the fastest teams out there, we just need to combine it with some scrappiness to play to our strengths.”

Offensively, Hurn wants his team on the attack.

“When we catch the basketball, we need to be able to attack,” Hurn said. “We put a big emphasis on that in our team camp. Have an attack mentality and always put pressure on the defense.”

Forks will test itself in its nonleague schedule.

“We are challenging ourselves with some tough nonleague games. I think Rainier is going to be right there in the mix in the Central League, and I know our district is the best in the state,” Hurn said. We also have a couple of games with Neah Bay, and we know how good they are, and we wanted them on our schedule.”

Forks Spartans

Head coach: David Hurn

Last season: 11-9 overall, won two district playoff games for the first time since 2009.

Returners: Keira Johnson (Jr., W, 5-8); Kadie Wood (sr., W, 5-3); Kyra Neel (sr., P, 5-9); Janessa Ramos (jr., W, 5-3); Chloe Gaydeski-St. John (Fr., W, 5-8); Casadie Whorton (Sr., G, 5-5); Brynn Daniels (jr., P, 5-9); Brynn Daniels (jr., P, 5-9).

Newcomers: Bailey Johnson (8th, W, 5-6). Hurn also said there is strong turnout from eighth- and ninth-graders, so some youth will be served this season.

Outlook: Hurn is hoping for steady improvement all season from his capable squad. “We have to be able to build every week and play our best at the end of the year,” Hurn said. “If we can do that, I think we will compete for league and the postseason.”

________

Contact sports reporter Michael Carman at mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

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