FORKS — The Forks girls basketball team is hoping to avoid the injury bug, use its bench more and play quicker this season.
“We’d like to pick up the pace a little bit and we are a pretty athletic team,” said third-year Spartans head coach David Hurn. “I’d like for us to be aggressive and play a faster tempo with a more aggressive defense than we have in the past and that’s a testament to our depth.
“We have had to rely on our first five or six girls [in recent seasons], [and] I haven’t gone as deep into the bench as maybe I should have and got our studs tired. I feel comfortable increasing our tempo because we have a higher basketball IQ and our depth will help us do a little more than we have in the past offensively.”
Forks has some experienced veterans returning with four-year senior starters Rian Peters and Jayden Olson and third-year junior post Chloe Leverington back on the floor. Leverington is a six-footer who led the team with more than 10 points per game last year.
Peters put up more than 7 points per game last season and has played guard in the past due to a need for her ball handling skills, but at 5-foot-9, Hurn is hoping to see more of her near the basket.
And Olson also scored more than 7 points a game last season at guard.
“We are going to rely on Rian and Jayden, they’ve started every game since they’ve stepped on the basketball court as freshmen,” Hurn said.
“We have quite a bit of size with Chloe, Ellie [Kilmer] and Kray [Horton].”
Kilmer is another six-footer and Horton is around 5-10, so the Spartans do have size.
Myah Rondeau returns at guard after a year away from the program.
“She played as a freshman and sophomore and started on the varsity as a sophomore,” Hurn said of Rondeau.
Kesia Rowley and Rylee Bouchard also return after contributing last season.
“We have a lot of girls who have been around the program and played a lot of basketball for us,” Hurn said.
Hurn also said freshman Kadie Wood will be a player for Forks at guard.
“Kadie Wood will have a big impact as a freshman,” Hurn said. “She’s exciting to watch.”
Candida-Rose Sandoval will join the team after recovering from a soccer injury, Hurn said.
Hurn said the turnout was solid and he feels confident in the group as a whole.
“We kept 18 girls this year and I strongly feel from No. 1 down to No. 18, it’s the strongest group we have ever had. We are going to have competitive practices because we are very deep in basketball talent.”
Elma, a state tournament qualifier last season, returns the bulk of its roster and serves as the Evergreen League favorite, Hurn said.
But the league saw coaching turnover with new coaches now in place at Montesano, Tenino and Hoquiam.
“That’s the story of our league this year,” Hurn said. Montesano, Tenino and Hoquiam all have new coaching staffs. Some of them have lost some players. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out. We expect to compete and be near the top of the league and fight hard for it. We have to chase down Elma, they are the favorites and that’s going to be a challenge.”
Head coach: David Hurn (third season, 18-23)
Last season: 2-6, 8-13, won Evergreen League, 0-2 in district tournament.
Returners: Chloe Leverington (Jr., P, 6-0); Rian Peters (Sr., G, 5-9); Jayden Olson (Sr., G, 5-8); Ellie Kilmer (Sr., P, 6-0); Kesia Rowley (jr., G, 5-6); Kray Horton (Jr., P, 5-9); Rylee Bouchard (So., G, 5-6).
Newcomers: Myah Rondeau (sr., G, 5-2) Candida Rose-Sandoval (so., G, 5-1,); Kadie Wood (fr., G, 5-5); Kyra Neel (fr., F 5-9,); Savannah Jinneman (sr., F, 5-8); Kyrissa Duncan (so., F, 5-7).
Outlook: The Spartans have the pieces to compete for a district playoff berth and the talent to make some noise in the postseason.