For several seasons, Sequim coaches were chagrined by a low turnout for their Wolves’ girls hoops program.
Forty-three games without a mark in the ‘W’ column can do that to a team.
But that was so 2009. Picking up wins isn’t a problem anymore after an 11-win campaign last winter.
And turnout? That’s not a problem anymore, either. Sequim coach Stephanie Lewis noted 31 players tried out for Sequim’s two squads, fueled by a strong freshman class.
“It’s a compliment that girls want to be part of the program,” Lewis says.
Sequim lost to graduation do-everything guard Lea Hopson, an All-Olympic League first-teamer who led Sequim in scoring in nearly half of their games last season, averaging 14 points per contest.
But the Wolves bring back a strong core of varsity players, including post Haleigh Harrison, an all-league honorable mention, and point guard Taylor Balkan. Balkan averaged five points, two assists and 2.2 steals per contest while Harrison led the team with 7.7 rebounds and chipped in with 6.3 points and nearly a block per contest.
“She (Haleigh) has that want in a good way, (it’s) not selfish,” Lewis says.
With guard Rylleigh Zbaraschuk not in the lineup this winter, Lewis says she’ll be relying on players like Columbia Haupt.
The junior guard impressed coaches with her offseason work, Lewis said.
“She stepped up her game this year.”
Giving Sequim a solid foundation in the post positions are returning players Demiree Briones, Alexas Besand and Maddie Hamer. Lewis likes her team’s chances with that trio, from Briones’ strength and Besand’s defense to Hamer finishing strong around the basket.
Add to the mix freshman Emily Wallner, whom Lewis and company are grooming to be a point guard.
“She’s got good court sense,” Lewis says. “(She has an) ability to be coached. It’s, ‘Yes coach’ and she does it. And I don’t think there are other 5-9 point guards in our league.”
After two years of having seven solid players and two or three swing up from junior varsity, Lewis is carrying 10 players on her varsity roster.
After two winless seasons from 2008-2010, the Wolves started strong last season, chalking up an 8-1 mark before dropping 10 of their final 12 games.
Still, the Wolves got wins they needed to qualify for the district tournament, before finally getting bumped out by Olympic and Foster.
That has Lewis and company looking for a bit of revenge when Sequim and Olympic meet up on Dec. 2 and Jan. 6.
Also on Lewis’ list for key games include two match-ups apiece with Kingston and Port Angeles, along with the Carpenter twins (seniors Jalen and Kourtney) with Bremerton.
As for a goal, Lewis said it’s simply, “Every year, get better and better.”
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.