Expectations? After a year-and-a-half layoff, two school years turned upside down thanks to a pandemic and sports seasons overlapping one another, Sequim High girls basketball coach Linsay Rapelje isn’t pinning anything down anytime soon.
”I don’t have expectations; it’s literally been day by day,” she said, just a few hours after her squad opened with a 61-21 rout of East Jefferson on May 9.
“You always want to win, (but) this year, ultimately, I just want the girls to play and enjoy (it),” she said.
The Wolves have grown into a force in the region since Rapelje took over partway through the 2018-2019 season, scoring a state 2A tourney playoff berth that year and coming within a win of another during last year’s playoff run, finishing 10-2 in league and 17-7 overall.
This year’s iteration of the Wolves will be missing a number of regulars, two to graduation (Hope Glasser, Jessica Dietzman) and two to focus on other sports: Hannah Wagner (soccer) and Riley Pyeatt (cross country/track).
But Sequim does see the return of all-Olympic League first team post player Jayla Julmist, a threat to earn a double-double in almost every game she played — with nine in 20 games — and boasting an averaged of 10.9 points per game.
This season she’s joined on the varsity squad by younger sister Jelissa, who paced the Wolves in the season-opener with 19 points.
“They just feed off of each other,” Rapelje said of the Julmist siblings. “Jayla she rebounds like crazy, like she always has, (and) Jelissa shoots; with those two in, they are tough to defend. And (now) I’ve got two really good post defenders.”
Also back is Kalli Wiker, an all-Olympic League second team guard who led the Wolves in scoring with 11.4 points per game and twice tied Art Green’s long-standing overall school record for 3-pointers in a single game with eight.
Not having some expected key players has opened up spots on the varsity roster, Rapelje noted, particularly for freshmen Jolene Vaara and Taryn Johnson.
“Taryn and Jolene are both super athletic; they’re just a little raw,” Rapelje said.
“My freshman are grow the most for sure; they’re coming in with a certain amount of knowledge, (but) when you play varsity basketball the growth and what you have to learn is exponential,” she said. “The pressure is way different at the varsity level.”
Rapelje has five seniors — Jayla Julmist, Wiker, Amanda Weller, Tarrah Stipe and Melissa Porter — whom she hopes will get to enjoy a “full senior year experience.”
She said, “When we play hard when we play well we have fun; at the end of the school year, that’s important. You want to win, but it’s not the ultimate goal.”
Fans can watch games online at youtube.com/channel/UCP3CvN-c6gN9KKCLiVtDzng (or search “Sequim High School Girls Basketball”).