The last time Pomeroy High School’s girls basketball team went to state, Nettie Heytvelt was a senior and a guard for the Pirates.
Twelve years later, Nettie Heytvelt Severs, 29, is coaching her hometown team in the State 2B Girls Basketball Championships.
The tournament, which features 16 girls teams and 16 boys teams from schools with enrollments of about 88 to 187, began Wednesday and continues through Saturday at the Spokane Arena.
“It’s neat to give them back an opportunity,” Severs said of her players. “I’m trying to develop a winning tradition in Pomeroy and hoping this is the leap-off point.”
It’s a difficult mission for a school that is seeing declining enrollment matched against many parochial schools drawing players from big cities.
Though the Pirates finished their regular season with 11 wins and 9 losses, that statistic belies a 0-6 start.
“After Christmas we really played together as a team,” Severs said.
The team turned things around at midseason in a game against Dayton. The Pirates were down 10 points in the third quarter and ended with a win.
“That was the very definition of a changing point in our season,” she said.
In 1996, Severs’ team failed to place in the championship after finishing the season 19-5. Now, she says, she’s facing a new level of expectations.
“It takes a thick skin to be a coach,” she said. “I don’t have a thick enough skin sometimes.”
Severs, whose cousin is Gonzaga University player Josh Heytvelt, will coach her team today against Evergreen Lutheran.
The Pirates lost their first game Wednesday against White Pass, 54-45.