Frontier girls basketball
East Valley High School’s girls basketball team, which did not even qualify for the district playoffs a year ago, is among this year’s Frontier League favorites.
In part it is because the Knights return three players who have started since their sophomore season.
Primarily it is because there is no team, such as Cheney’s unbeatens of a year ago, with a clear-cut edge.
“From top to bottom teams are at a higher level,” said West Valley coach Mark Kuipers. “The league will be more competitive.”
WV and the rest of the league’s teams, including the Knights, return much of their lineups. And newcomer Riverside was a State A tourney participant last season.
Thus, although the Knights must feel flattered by the respect accorded a team that was fifth-place in league and 6-14 last season, new coach Darsi Frazier has put it in perspective.
“Time will tell,” said Frazier. “We can take no team for granted at all.”
Teams play the first of eight non-league games beginning Dec. 1
Young WV could be improved
Last year’s team, which finished fourth in league and qualified for district, was an equal mix of seniors and sophomores.
This year there is only one senior, Julie Bonner, whose time was confined primarily to junior varsity.
That doesn’t mean the Eagle varsity, which includes six juniors and four sophomores, isn’t good.
“We’re real young, but physically we’re OK,” said Kuipers. “We have some experience there.”
His biggest concern is the health of junior Dawn Salfer, a high-scoring athlete and starter since ninth grade.
“She has a hip condition,” he said. “It’s too early to tell, but I don’t know if we’ll have her for the season.”
Salfer is one of four junior letter winners. The others are 6-foot post Stacey Roberts, Keisha Sowers and point guard Cindy Simpson.
Sowers, who missed part of last season with a knee injury, will provide leadership. Roberts, said Kuipers, has greatly improved.
Other juniors are Sherry Shollenberger and Rhonda Barney.
Sophomore Gabrielle McClintock could fill Salfer’s shoes if necessary. Classmates Chantelle Frost, Cameron Oullette and Sara Allen complete the varsity squad.
“I’m not sure how we’re going to do,” said Kuipers. “I’m kind of optimistic but at the same time I’m not going bonkers. We have to prove ourselves.”
There’s reason for optimism at EV
There are good reasons for excitement at East Valley, not the least of which is the fact the Knights beat rival WV twice a year ago.
Eight players are back from last year’s varsity, including third-year starting guards Linsay Porter and Star Olson and post Farrah Parsley.
Also back is second-year starter Angela Overdorff, who with Parsley gives the team 6-foot size inside.
Sara Cochran, Sasha Jackowich and Crystal Cook all have varsity experience. Another veteran, Licia Arnot is still recovering from a broken leg incurred during soccer and may miss most of the season.
“Right now we’re playing it by ear,” said Frazier. “We may have her by playoff time.”
Rounding out the team are juniors Breanna Coombs, Rachel Mackey, Kellie Olson, Mary Hobbs, Lescia Meyers and senior Deanna Hatch.
“We have size, we have quickness and talent,” said Frazier. “We have everything it takes to win. We just have to bring it together.”
Frazier is a graduate of Clarkston High School and former Whitworth College player and assistant coach. In her third year teaching at EV, she replaced Neil LeGrant following a season as freshman coach.
She said the Knights have gone back to basics and that it will take time for the girls to catch on and be the team she wants.
“The key for us will be consistency and discipline,” said Frazier. “We’re taking it one day at a time.”