- Who’s second behind Jackson?
The Timberwolves had little trouble dispatching the rest of the Wesco 4A South league last season while going 25-1 – with their lone loss coming in the 4A State Championship game. Jackson again appears primed to make a deep playoff run, with a good portion of last year’s squad coming back.
While it will be hard to dethrone Jackson, the top contenders to do so in the 4A South appear to once again be Edmonds-Woodway (15-9 overall), Mariner (11-11) and Kamiak (10-12). The Warriors, which played Jackson the closest last season losing their two games by a combined seven points, bring back first-team post Travis Bakken and second-team wing Jason Smarr as they try to overtake the Timberwolves.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve figured them out. They’re going to be tough,” said Edmonds-Woodway coach Steve Call. “I think we have some personnel that’ll give them some fits and throw a few wrinkles at them. … Obviously Jackson’s the front runner but we gave them a tough couple games. I would see us being back in that same position.”
- Who’s left for Mariner?
The Marauders finished in the middle of the pack last season after going winless the season before. But with the loss of 10 players, including wing Bayek Tutlem, there are plenty of questions surrounding this year’s team.
Tutlem, a first-team All-Wesco 4A South selection, is one of seven seniors — including second-team guard Kiante Ahmad-Woods — that are no longer on the Marauders’ squad, creating a lot of opportunities for younger players to step up.
“We’ve got to get better from game to game, from practice to practice,” said Mariner head coach Tom Jensen. “… We’re not just trying to get experience. We’re trying to be competitive.”
Two players that are returning are Andre Haghgoo and Greg Whitaker. The Marauders will once again feature Shawn Miguel, who played at Mariner during his freshman and sophomore season before transferring away. Miguel is back and should be an integral part of the Mariner squad.
“We’ve got those three guys who are solid, and we’re going to surround them with a few other juniors that have been in the program for a few years,” Jensen said. “We’re not looking just to fill gaps right now. We’re looking to build to the future.”
The Starting 5: The Herald’s Preseason All-League Team
- G Dan Kingma, Sr., Jackson: The senior point guard will once again be called upon to help run the high-powered Jackson offense.
- G/F Jason Todd, Sr., Jackson: One of the best players in the state looks to end his high school campaign with a strong season.
- G/F Brian Zehr, Sr., Jackson: Sometimes lost with all the Timberwolves’ playmakers is Zehr, who is a powerful force for Jackson both on offense and defense.
- W Jason Smarr, Sr., Edmonds-Woodway: The Warriors’ wing player is even stronger after spending the offseason in the weight room and on the Edmonds-Woodway football team.
- P Travis Bakken, Sr., Edmonds-Woodway: In a fact that will likely terrify Edmonds-Woodway’s opponents, Bakken – who was first-team all-league last year – spent the offseason bulking up and becoming an even stronger, better athlete.
Player to watch: Travis Bakken, Edmonds-Woodway
A key member of the Warriors’ football team, Bakken, an offensive and defensive lineman worked on his footwork for doing battle in the trenches. It happens to have some additional benefits now that he’s on the court.
“He’s actually improved his footwork which is one of the good things about football,” said Edmonds-Woodway head coach Steve Call. “That’s what we were hoping he would improve. He seems a little quicker which is nice. He can guard the paint and even play some defense out on the perimeter.”
While Bakken says football is his primary sport – according to Call, he’s being recruited by the University of Washington among other schools – he is no slouch when it comes to hoops. He averaged about 15 points and 9.5 rebounds per game last season and Call hopes this year he can be “our big inside threat that teams have to focus on.”
The four-year varsity player is also being asked to help guide some of the younger Warriors. “He’s a senior so there’s senior leadership,” Call said. “He’s used to big games. He doesn’t get rattled. He’s a good team leader with a good work ethic.”
Fresh face(s): Nate Shubert, Gavin Patrick, Coleman Grayson, Kamiak, sophs.
Even with six seniors returning to the Knights, the trio of Shubert, Patrick and Grayson — which began last season on the freshmen team — all look to contribute to the varsity squad this year.