Jordan Phelan doesn’t like to refer to the East Valley girls basketball roster as teammates.
“We’re family,” she insists.
The EV family heads to Yakima, where it plays today’s nightcap at the SunDome, a 9 p.m. game with Sammamish. Collectively, the family wants to improve on last year’s 1-2 finish. The Knights were 2-2 at the tourney in 2010.
At East Valley, family is almost a literal reality. The team starts freshman twins, two junior cousins and Phelan, a junior.
At its core, family is what makes the team work.
“We all play multiple sports,” Phelan said. “A bunch of us plays soccer. I play volleyball. We all play basketball and we all play spring sports.
“During the summer it gets complicated.”
At East Valley, complicated gets solved with a little cooperation and flexibility.
“We’ve all been doing this since we were little,” Phelan said. “Our families would never let us quit. They told us all that, when it was time to play soccer or volleyball, we give it everything we have and when it was time to play basketball, we give that everything we had.”
In Phelan’s family, it’s in the DNA. Her dad, John Phelan, coaches football and baseball at East Valley. Her mom, Lisa, is the former cross country coach and track assistant coach at Freeman. Her brother, J.T., was a starter as a freshman football player at Whitworth after being a three-sport standout at EV.
One of the biggest keys to making multiple sports work is the attitude coaches such as basketball coach Rob Collins bring, Phelan said.
“He is so positive and so easy to talk to,” Phelan said. “I sometimes feel sorry for him trying to run a summer basketball program when everyone is so busy doing multiple sports.
“But he’s always been supportive. When I have a volleyball game, he would always tell me to go play volleyball and come back in an hour. When Hannah Burland or one of the other soccer players would have a game, he’d tell her to go play soccer and come back in 2 hours.
“He’s always encouraged us to do it all and have fun.”
Soccer and volleyball each had outstanding seasons in the fall. Soccer reached the first round of the state tournament and volleyball posted an undefeated regular season.
“We had a great basketball season last year and when it came time for the season to start, we were all very excited about basketball,” Phelan said. “We only lost one person from last year and she was a key player, but we knew we wanted to work hard to get back to state and we’ve had a good run.
“In some ways, it’s almost been better than last year because it all came together and the chemistry was there from start.”
The Knights were undefeated during the regular season, but a buzzer-beater 3-pointer by Pullman cost them the district title.
“When you play every team three times during the regular season, you know what to expect, but you also know that crazy things can happen,” Phelan said. “When they hit that shot, we just said, ‘OK, we gotta go, we gotta prepare and we gotta go play on Saturday.’ Simple as that.”
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