- Can Mountlake Terrace go from worst to first?
The Hawks finished three games behind any other team in the Wesco 3A south a season ago, but finished the season by winning four of their final six games including wins over Shorewood and Everett.
After defeating Sultan in the first game of the season, Mountlake Terrace lost eight consecutive games before righting the ship late in the season.
“Towards the end of last season they were one of the top teams in the league,” first-year head coach Zach Wilde said. “A lot of that was a mindset. Starting right from the beginning our mindset has been every play and every possession work as hard as we can. We’re expecting to win. We’re wanting to win. We’re practicing to win.”
Junior Samantha Romanowski is a threat to score 25-plus in every game and is one of the area’s top scorers.
“In my mind she’s one of the top players around the state when she plays to her abilities,” Wilde said. “She wants to be a perfectionist so much. When she lets the little things not bug her, she’s just to good and too hard for other people to guard.”
But the Hawks success will be determined by the players around her. Maddy Kristjanson and Nikki Froehlich are the team’s two other returning starter that will be relied upon to help lighten the load for Romanowski.
“If this team really wants to do something those two girls are going to have to grab Sam and take her along with them and show her the way,” Wilde said. “Sam’s ability is going to get us to the next level, but their leadership and toughness is going to get us to the next step.”
- Will the Grizzlies have a double-digit scorer?
The Grizzlies didn’t have a single player average in double figures a season ago, but it turns out they didn’t need one. Their offensive balance and defensive effort still earned the team a trip to the state tournament.
This year, Glacier Peak has two players that could potentially average in double figures and they both play inside. Senior posts Nikki Fausey and Taylor Baird are both committed to play basketball in college and give the Grizzlies a very formidable frontline.
“Either one of them could easily be double digit scorers for us, but at the same time they could keep the other one from being in double digits if they are balanced,” Glacier Peak head coach Brian Hill said.
While it’s nice to have a consistent scorer, nine of the 11 players on the Grizzlies varsity team from a season ago scored in double figures at least once. That kind of balance is hard to prepare for.
“You don’t know who it’s going to be tonight,” Hill said. “I think that kind of benefitted us last year. Teams have a tough time scouting us because you have to scout all of us, not just one or two.”
And with the defense the Grizzlies play, they don’t need a lot of scoring on most nights. Glacier Peak held opponents under 50 points per game last season.
“We’re probably one of the better defensive teams not only in the league, but in the state,” Hill said. “The more we can stop team from scoring the more it’s going to give us an opportunity to win. But at the same time let’s try to score more than 45 points.”
The Starting 5: The Herald’s Preseason All-League Team
- G Samantha Romanowski, Jr., Mountlake Terrace: After a breakout season as a sophomore, Romanowski likely will be the league’s top scorer this season.
- G Mackenzie Bretz, Sr., Meadowdale: With Alyssa Reuble having graduated in June, Bretz will be one of the Mavericks leaders this season.
- G Lily Gustafson, So., Shorewood: Gustafson was the only Wesco 3A freshman to make the first or second all-league teams a year ago.
- P Onyie Chibuogwu, Sr., Shorecrest: Chibuogwu is one of just two seniors the Scots have, but she is one of the most talented players in the league.
- P Nicole Fausey, Sr., Glacier Peak: The 6-foot-4 post has already committed to Cal Poly.
Player to watch: Onyie Chibuogwu, Shorecrest
The Scots post has plenty of talent on th court, but head coach Dori Monson said she has the competitiveness to go along with it.
“She has a tremendous competitive spirit and she’s just a great jumper,” he said. “She has the best jumping ability of any kid I’ve ever coached. That makes her a real tough rebounder and real tough around the basket.”
Monson will also look for Chibuogwu to provide leadership to a team that is looking to make a return trip to the state tournament after a one-year absence.
“Onyie is a very vocal leader, but she also leads by example,” Monson said. “She always leads by example in practice and she also will speak up and motivate the team. She knows as our senior captain that’s her job.”
Despite being so young, Monson said he believes his team has the talent to challenge the top teams in Wesco if they are able to come together.
“I think we have as much talent as the team I had two years ago as the team that got fourth in state,” he said. “It’s just that we’re so young. We’ll have to see how it comes together and matures through the season.”
Fresh Face: Natalie Rasmussen, So., Glacier Peak
The guard will have a familiar name and a familiar number. She will wear the number 13 just as her older sister Taylor did as a senior two years ago for the Grizzlies.
Glacier Peak head coach Brian Hill said Rasmussen is one of the most court savvy players he’s ever coached.
“I think her IQ is probably her biggest strength because she tends to not make those careless mistakes,” Hill said. “She tends to make the right decision the majority of the time.”
With such a talented team, Rasmussen may struggle for minutes although Hill said she will have a role.
“We have eight people coming back that went to state last year not counting Natalie,” Hill said. “She will probably still have a role coming off the bench.”
Rasmussen is a tough defender and can shoot the ball much like her sister, though she may not shoot quite as many.
“Taylor never saw a shot she didn’t like,” Hill said with a laugh. “Natalie is a little more selective, but she can drain them too, you can’t leave her open.”
1. Glacier Peak
2. Mountlake Terrace