It may not be Taylor-made, but all signs point to it being King’s and Cedarcrest’s conference crown to lose again.
Despite losing their respective star players in Caleb Taylor and Zach Taylor to graduation, the Knights and Red Wolves return a healthy portion of teams that shared the conference crown last year.
King’s returns guard Andrew Ayers, who will be asked to step up his scoring with the absence of Caleb Taylor, and a strong inside presence in Calvin Kispert.
“Their depth and buy-in to Coach (Rick) Skeen’s system will put King’s at or near the top of the Cascade Conference,” said first-year Lakewood coach David Choi.
Cedarcrest returns possibly the star of the conference in Jordan Corpus. The senior guard was the other half of a dynamic duo with Zach Taylor that averaged nearly 33 points per game last season.
“Jordan Corpus can flat out ball,” Choi said. “It will be interesting to see how he will do as the premier player with Zach Taylor gone.”
Archbishop Murphy finished third behind King’s and Cedarcrest last season but lost leading scorers Phil Hoban and Zander Clouse. In their place the Wildcats will count on a pair of all-league selections in Josh Parafina and Connor Longoria and a number of utility players.
“Our versatility for players to play multiple positions should enable us to stay competitive throughout the season,” said Murphy head coach Jamar Williams.
Two programs on the rise have new coaches in Choi at Lakewood and Andy Estes at Granite Falls. The Tigers return two starters in Riley Larsen, who was selected to the all-conference first team last year, and Evan West.
Choi takes over a Lakewood program that finished 7-13 last season and just out of the playoffs but returns a number of solid contributors, including Ryan Alford, Paul Coleman and Hunter Fritz.
The starting 5: The Herald’s Preseason All-League Team
- G Josh Parafina, So., A. Murphy: The Wildcats versatile guard averaged 8.6 points per game last season and was selected to the all-conference second team.
- G Ryan Alford, Jr., Lakewood: The Cougars will rely on the junior guard, who was top five in the league in scoring as a sophomore, to put the ball in the hole.
- G Jordan Corpus, Sr., Cedarcrest: The senior guard is now the top dog in the Red Wolves’ offense after the graduation of last year’s conference player of the year Zach Taylor.
- F Evan West, Sr., Granite Falls: The Tigers forward was voted the defensive player of the year last season and will be counted on to lock down some of the best players in the league.
- F Calvin Kispert, Jr., King’s: In a league with tons of good guards, Kispert could stand out as a big advantage down low. “I love his mental and physical toughness; he plays hard every play,” said Cedarcrest head coach Mark Prince
Fresh face: Nolan Rogge, Jr., Archbishop Murphy
The transfer from Everett averaged 8.2 points per game last season and will be counted on to replace the scoring of Hoban and Clouse.
3. Archbishop Murphy
6. Granite Falls
7. South Whidbey