By Chris Trujillo For the Weekly Herald
When he looked down his bench late last year, all Tarrance Tucker saw was one player and several assistant coaches staring back.
That’s not exactly what the first-year coach wanted to see, especially before his Edmonds Community women’s basketball team was about to square off against one of the best teams in the conference. Yet there he was, fielding just six players while four others sat out for various reasons.
“We were playing in a tournament at Clackamas and grades had just come out,” Tucker said. “So two of our players had to sit out for their grades and a few of our transfers missed the game because they were having transcript problems. It was a tough situation. But in my pregame speech I told them that regardless of the score I was going to be proud of them.”
The game went just as you’d think. Yakima Valley blew out the Tritons by 50 points thanks mostly to Yakima Valley’s lights-out shooting from 3-point range. Yakima converted 11 3-pointers and shot nearly 50 percent from the field.
But despite the lopsided loss, the six Tritons played harder than anyone had expected. So much in fact that several coaches from other teams, including the Yakima Valley coach, approached Tucker, complimenting him on how well his players played.
“I am not one for moral victories,” said Tucker. “But we played so hard and we never gave up. It was very impressive. That game really raised my expectations for this team.”
However, Tucker’s hope for an improved season plummeted as the Tritons went on to lose several more games.
“I don’t know what happened, but for some reason we took several steps backward,” Tucker said. “I asked the team how many of them wanted to return next year. I told them that I was doing some recruiting and that they were showing me that they didn’t want to be here. It was very humbling.”
Despite their woes, Tucker’s confidence in the team remains untarnished. He’s a strong believer in positive coaching and he is constantly encouraging his players to be the best they can be. And according to Tucker, that’s much more than what they have shown.
“This has been a growing period and I will keep encouraging them,” he said, “but they have to be accountable and I think that is something they’ve never been held to. So we went back to the fundamentals and I think it’s been paying off. They are practicing harder and they are showing me that they really want to be here.”
Freshmen guards Mikaela Raschick and Andrea Berendsen lead the team in scoring.
“We have talent all around us,” Tucker said. “They just don’t have the mental confidence. Mikaela has the potential to be the best player on the team, but she needs to be more aggressive. She’s averaging 15 points, but she should be averaging 20. Kalea Wilson is our best shooter, but she needs to shoot more. The bottom line is that we need to have better mental focus, and I know they have it in them. They just have to unleash it.”