A veteran-laden Whitworth women’s basketball team returns 11 players from a season ago with three newcomers peppered in.
With a challenging and testing schedule that begins with an exhibition against Eastern Washington on Nov. 5, fourth-year coach Joial Griffith is excited to see what her Pirates can do.
“They’ve been around the block a little bit, for lack of a better phrase, just in terms of my expectations for the team and for them,” Griffith said. “And I think we have a pretty challenging schedule that will help us well, once we get into conference play.”
In a COVID-shortened season, the Pirates went 4-4 in a Northwest Conference-only schedule. The goal for the Pirates is to get into the conference tournament and vie for a spot in the conference championship.
The three seniors who will help try to reach that pinnacle are fourth-year starter Megan Dorney, Quincy McDeid and Talia Brandner.
Griffith said Dorney is one of the premier posts in the conference due to her flexibility on the defensive end and her high efficiency on offense – she has shot more than 50% in her career.
McDeid, a North Central graduate, was the Pirates’ leading scorer (12.1 points per game) and rebounder (7.1) from a season ago. She can stretch the defense with her shooting.
Hawaii-native Brandner returns as Whitworth’s primary ball-handler but is working to become a dangerous off-ball guard. Griffith called her one of more creative players on the roster.
The regular season kicks off Nov. 12 against Whitman at home in the Quality Inn Whitworth Classic. Conference play starts Jan. 7 against Pacific at home.
Community Colleges of Spokane
With 17 women on the roster, CCS is seeing itself get better each practice as players are fighting for more floor time.
“I feel like we’re deep at a lot of positions,” second-year coach Jessica Kramer said. “And everybody has just been very bought in so far. And practice has been competitive every day, which is exciting for me as a coach, because I know that we’re getting better with each practice. No matter who we put together, it’s competitive.”
Starting point guard Lizze Perry – a sophomore from Oakesdale – is the gym rat of the team. Her effort on both ends of the floor show up on tape and help push her teammates to match her pace.
Sophomore Dejah Wilson is one of the best athletes on the team. She snagged 19 rebounds against Yakima Valley last year and will play more as a wing player who can also post up.
On the outside is sharpshooter Emma Main (Mt. Spokane), one of the quicker players on the team, who can knock down transition threes.
“When she’s hot, she’s hot,” Kramer said.
Many local freshman joi the roster, including Mt. Spokane’s Gracey Neal, East Valley’s Ellie Stowell, Deer Park’s Taylor Lyons, Clarkston’s AJ Sobotta and Liberty’s Delaney Goodwin.
The Sasquatch have multiple exhibition games scheduled, but their regular season starts on Nov. 19 at Whatcom Community College.
After filling in on an interim basis a season ago, Korina Baker returns as the coach of North Idaho.
Baker is building the Cardinals with nine freshmen, many from the Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene and Rathdrum area.
But the first-year player to keep an eye on is Ephrata’s Payton Hagy.
Baker said the point guard is a quick floor general who sees passing lanes very well. She is still learning how the Cardinals want to play, but she is quickly acclimating.
“She’s going to get quite a bit of minutes for us,” Baker said.
Down low is sophomore Maggie Graves, who is a powerful threat near the basket.
“She played big minutes for us last year when we had seven players, and she’ll see a lot of them this year,” Baker said.
On the perimeter is Kaylee Banks, a Sandpoint graduate who is also expecting decent floor time. Her ability to attack the basket and split the defense will make her one of the top guards for the Cardinals this year.
The Northwest Athletic Conference is a guard-powered league, so Baker wants her Cardinals to run the floor and attack in transition.“When we come out with energy and hype each other up, we can’t be touched,” Baker said. “I think that is the biggest thing that we’re working on right now is coming in everyday with a lot of energy and just working our butts off. I think as long as that carries over to the court, I think we’ll be OK.”