Sequim High Wolves’ had a remarkable season a year ago, overcoming a coaching change just two games into the season to qualify for the 2A state tournament.
“It’s been nice being able to plan things out and having the offseason,” Sequim coach Linsay Rapelje said, in the midst of her first preseason workout as head coach since 2005-06.
“I look at last season as the foundational year,” she said, “and now the girls are coming back knowing the expectations.”
Rapelje’s Wolves went 17-8 last season, posting an 8-4 record in league play — good for third place in the Olympic League behind Port Angeles and North Kitsap.
Sequim also boasted the second-best offense in the league last year, scoring 60.5 points per game, behind only Port Angeles’ 62.8 points per contest.
The Wolves lost just one senior to graduation, guard Bobbi Sparks, allowing them to return an experienced team.
“I feel like we’ve picked up where we were (at the end of last season),” Rapelje said. “It’s been good to see them come back and get to work.”
Experience and depth
Led by seniors Hope Glasser and Jessica Dietzman, the team is also anchored by junior post Jayla Julmist and junior guards Kalli Wiker and Melissa Porter, plus sophomore guards Riley Pyeatt and Hannah Wagner and sophomore post LeeAnn Raney.
Freshman newcomer Hannah Bates rounds the team out, giving the Wolves a versatile lineup with almost every player on the varsity roster having played significant minutes last season.
The best part of that depth and quality for Rapelje is the flexibility that this group offers her.
“Nothing is set right now,” she said at a preseason practice. “Even my starters from last year aren’t set in stone.
“There’s so many talented girls here who have worked to get better over the summer, or are just good from the moment they step on the court. This group (of players) means that if our opponent is bigger, we can play a bigger lineup, or if they’re faster I can play more guards. We have options.”
Glasser, a forward, was the team’s leading scorer last season with 12.3 points per game, with shooting guard Wiker right behind her at 11.7 points per game. How those two got their points will help with the team’s versatility: Glasser’s physical presence helps create points in the paint and from the free throw line, while Wiker scores almost three 3-point baskets per game to go along with a strong mid-range game.
Glasser was also instrumental to the team’s defense, with 5.1 defensive rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.
Julmist also made her presence felt on defense, earning eight defensive rebounds, 2.4 steals and 1.7 blocks per game. Julmist added 6.3 offensive rebounds and 9.9 points per game on the offensive end.
Dietzman was the Wolves’ primary playmaker with 3.4 assists per game, and the guard was an important part of the scoring (7.6 points per contest) as well as being a disruptive defensive presence (2.3 steals per game).
Pyeatt might be taking on a fair amount of that play-making load as well.
Players like Porter and Wagner also give the Wolves some on-court flexibility, able to play multiple roles as needed, and Raney gives them another six-foot player coming off the bench to pair with Julmist.
“These girls are so dedicated and work so hard,” Rapelje said. “They’ve got a lot of talent, but what you’re really going to see is just how hard they work for each other on the court.”
That depth runs throughout the entire girls basketball program, which Rapelje and assistant Sven Wiker said will be able to field a C team after barely being able to put together a junior varsity team at times a year ago.
Rapelje has good experience herself, with this being her second tenure as the Wolves’ head coach. She lead the varsity team for two seasons from 2004-2006, earning a 25-20 record combined record and two playoff berths.
Rapelje is also working with her staff — which includes Sven Wiker and Joclin Julmist — to set up the team for as much success in Olympic League play as possible by scheduling a tough run of non-league matches early in the season.
“I really wanted to push and challenge our team,” Rapelje said, “so I reached out and set up games against tough teams like Tumwater and a 3A school, Edmonds-Woodway, and joined the Cloud 9 (Classic) tournament in Lynden.”
Sequim will face Sehome and Lynden Christian in that tournament, two traditionally tough teams from the Northwest Conference.
Rapelje’s hope is that games against these tougher opponents before their league schedule turns to tougher opponents like North Kitsap, Olympic and Port Angeles will help improve the Wolves’ performances against them, and hopefully propel them to another 2A state tournament run.
“Hopefully we won’t draw Port Angeles in the first round again if we make it,” Rapelje laughed. “Let more of the Olympic League advance for once.”