E-W returns plenty of raw talent
Point guard duties shift to sophomore Simone Jackson
Herald file/JENNIFER BUCHANAN
Edmonds-Woodway’s Natalie Kasper (right) drives on Snohomish’s Morgan Green during a Wesco 4A game. Kasper is one of four returning starters from last year’s team, which only graduated her older sister, Madeline Kasper.
Weekly Herald file/CHRIS GOODENOW
Seyi Olajoyegbe (left) is the lone returning senior starter for Edmonds-Woodway. Olajoyegbe already has been named a captain.
And it's likely going to stay that way for the next two years.
The Warriors graduated only one senior from last season and the squad will only have one senior in the starting lineup this year.
“That's how young we are,” Edmonds-Woodway coach Duane Hodges said.
With such a young group of players, the Warriors' offseason took on an added importance. Edmonds-Woodway co-hosted the Washington Prep League and played in three tournaments last month.
Sophomore Simone Jackson moves into the starting point guard role that was filled by Madeline Kasper, a first-team, all-league selection who helped guide the Warriors to the state tournament in 2011 and 2012. Jackson saw action as the off-guard during her freshman season.
“She's a real explosive point guard,” Hodges said. “Whenever I had to sub Madeline, she shifted over. … (Jackson) is a great athlete. It's fun to have someone who works real hard.”
The multi-talented Jackson was the Edmonds-Woodway softball team's starting shortstop and also pitched.
Hodges expects a lot out his point guards.
“They have to know where everybody on the court is and what they are supposed to do,” he said. “They are a little general on the court, without being mean.”
So far Jackson has shown she is more than up for the challenge of her new position.
“She has had some brilliant games this past summer. She's played awfully well,” Hodges said. “The point guard has to make great decisions in how to get into the offense. She is the primary decision-maker for each possession. We're working on the decision-making.”
The lone senior in the starting lineup is Seyi Olajoyegbe, a 6-foot-1 center. She's been named a captain.
Madeline Kasper's younger sister, Natalie, started as a freshman and is continuing to develop her skills.
“She's working awfully hard on her game,” Hodges said.
Also back is junior forward Sidney Eck, who has made strides in her game this summer, Hodges added.
One of the areas Hodges is working on is developing a deeper bench. In looking back over the last couple of years, he noticed that the lack of depth sometimes translated into difficulties in the fourth quarter of games.
“We don't have a lot of depth,” Hodges said. “We have to work on our depth. We are making progress. When you start playing back-to-back games, that's when your bench really showed.
“We lost too many games in the fourth quarter because of fatigue. I need to do a better job of subbing and getting the go-to players rest so they can finish strong in the fourth quarter.”
The summer was an ideal time for the incoming freshmen to become acquainted with their future teammates and with Hodges.
“The new girls came and got an introduction and started playing against some of the experienced teams,” Hodges said.
At times, the Warriors looked simply brilliant, Hodges said, and then other times he didn't like what he saw on the court.
“We have to work on our consistency,” Hodges said. “Youth is probably the thing that contributed to the inconsistent play. Last year I used our youth as almost as an excuse, whereas this year I'm not.”