Five storylines to watch from the local boys basketball scene this winter:
1. Can Glacier Peak defend its Wesco 4A crown? The Grizzlies graduated several starters from last season’s Wesco 4A championship team. But they return senior standout Bobby Martin, who averaged a team-high 17.3 points and eight rebounds per game while helping Glacier Peak earn a trip to the Tacoma Dome for the state tournament.
After allowing just 47.9 points per game last season, expect the Grizzlies to once again lean on their stingy defense, which has been a staple under 10th-year coach Brian Hunter. Glacier Peak’s biggest challengers to a second consecutive Wesco 4A crown are Kamiak and Monroe. Lake Stevens also could be dangerous with senior Ryder Kavanagh, who averaged 21.5 points per game last season.
2. After recent near-misses, Kamiak and Monroe are eyeing the Tacoma Dome. Kamiak has fallen one win short of the Tacoma Dome each of the past two seasons, losing in the state regionals both times. The Knights return senior point guard Carson Tuttle, a Division II-bound Texas A&M-Commerce signee who poured in 22.5 points per game last season and earned 4A first-team all-state honors. “Top to bottom, Kamiak is probably the most talented team in the league,” Hunter said. “Kamiak has size, and they have the best point guard in the area.”
Monroe is led by versatile 6-foot-8 senior Colby Kyle, a Princeton University commit who averaged 16 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks per game last year. After falling one win short of the state regionals last season for the second time in three years, the Bearcats are seeking just the program’s third state berth since 1953
3. Stanwood and Shorecrest headline the Wesco 3A race. Stanwood graduated its top six scorers from last year’s senior-laden team, which made program history by claiming a fourth-place state trophy. There’s no replacing the likes of AJ Martinka and Chase Strieby, but the Spartans have demonstrated an ability to reload while going a combined 56-2 in league play over the past five seasons. Stanwood’s roster features eight seniors again this year, including four who were part of the program’s ultra-successful junior-varsity squad that’s gone a combined 30-3 over the past two seasons.
“If their JV team played varsity last year, they would’ve been in the middle of the pack (in Wesco 3A),” Meadowdale coach Roger O’Neill said.
Shorecrest also was hit hard by graduation, losing standout point guard Malcolm Rosier-Butler and seven other members from last year’s district-championship team. But the Scots return 6-foot-8 senior center Philip Pepple, a Division I college prospect who averaged 16 points, nine rebounds and three blocks per game last season while helping the Scots reach the Tacoma Dome.
4. Several other teams figure to be in the Wesco 3A mix. Mountlake Terrace features one of the area’s best guards in 6-foot-4 senior Khyree Armstead, who averaged 13 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last season while helping the Hawks earn a trip to Yakima for the state tournament.
Arlington graduated star guard Drew Bryson but returns juniors Anthony Whitis and Griffin Gardoski, who were the Eagles’ second- and third-leading scorers last season with about 10 points per game apiece.
Meadowdale’s senior-laden squad returns three starters and plenty of length from last year, when the Mavericks reached the district tournament for the first time since 2011.
Marysville Pilchuck welcomes back all five starters, including the trio of junior standout RaeQuan Battle, senior Josiah Gould and sophomore Luke Dobler. Battle, one of the area’s top scorers, averaged 20.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season.
Edmonds-Woodway graduated leading scorer Keaton McKay, but the Warriors are perennial contenders who are coming off back-to-back trips to the state regionals.
5. Can King’s continue its Cascade Conference reign? The Knights got a head start on the post-Corey Kispert era last year when the 6-foot-6 standout — now a Gonzaga University starter — missed more than half the season with a foot injury.
King’s overcame the loss to place third at the 1A state tournament, but many of the players who were instrumental to that run have graduated. The Knights need new talent to emerge as they aim for a seventh consecutive Cascade Conference crown. Archbishop Murphy, which has finished second in the conference each of the past four seasons, graduated its two leading scorers in Abraham Lucas and Jaylon Carter. Len Bone, the longtime Snohomish coach who has spent nearly four decades coaching college and high school basketball, was hired as the Wildcats’ coach this past spring.
South Whidbey features Division II-bound senior guard Lewis Pope, a Central Washington University signee who averaged 18 points, six rebounds and four assists per game last season.