Girls basketball season starts

Head coach Debbie Lindgren and the Bremerton girls basketball team wraps up practice on Saturday, Nov. 27. The young Knights team will face a tough league schedule this season. - Mike Baldwin/staff photo
Head coach Debbie Lindgren and the Bremerton girls basketball team wraps up practice on Saturday, Nov. 27. The young Knights team will face a tough league schedule this season.
— image credit: Mike Baldwin/staff photo

The girls basketball season is underway with schools starting league play this week. Central Kitsap High School will vie for a high playoff seeding in the Narrows League, while Klahowya Secondary School, Olympic and Bremerton high schools battle through the logjam of teams in the Olympic League. The league is filled with additional Class 2A schools after the WIAA realigned some of the Peninsula schools.

Bremerton High School

Olympic League (3A)

Head coach: Debbie Lindgren (1st season)

Last year’s record: 9-12

Returners: Jalen Carpenter, Charlese Gaines, Keely Fein, Khadijah DeWalt, Kourtney Carpenter, Samantha Villalobos and Sharnaee Grettenberger are the team’s top returning varsity stars. This season Carpenter was voted team captain. The 6-foot-2 forward led the Knights with team highs of 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game last season. Carpenter said this week that her game has matured in the past year, which has allowed her to take on a leadership role. The self-proclaimed “goofy kid” likes joking with her teammates, but her tone was serious when asked about leading her teammates this season.

“It’s great to be the team captain, but everybody leads the team in some way,” Carpenter said. “We’re all leaders.”

Newcomers: Freshman guard Sawyer Kluge, who said she’s inspired by her teammates and Seattle Storm’s Lauren Jackson, hopes to make a big impression in her first year with the Knights.

Outlook: Former head coach Al Valencia resigned from the program last April, but the team’s coaching staff will look familiar. Lindgren, who was Valencia’s assistant, is the new head coach for a program waiting to return to postseason play. The team will play a more up-tempo game to capitalize on the players’ strengths, she said. Lindgren will coach a younger team this season, but she has high hopes as the team builds chemistry. Lindgren and the players went boating during the offseason for team-building exercises. They also competed at summer basketball camps to get reacquinated.

Olympic High School

Olympic League (2A)

Head coach: Laurie Shaw (3rd season)

Last year’s record: 15-7

Returners: Jalyn Halstead and Nicole Jones are the team’s top returning players from last year’s squad, which fizzled in the district tournament for the second consecutive season. Halstead enters her junior year coming off a season where she averaged 10 points and seven rebounds per game. Jones is the only returning senior.

Newcomers: The team will feature a mix of fresh faces from different places. Senior Shannon Jackson joined the team, headlining the senior class alongside Jones. Juniors Courtnie Burleigh, Melia Lagat, Kendyl Mussman, Keelana Noble and Savannah Quitevis played “serious minutes” with the junior varsity team last year, Shaw said. Sophomores Ashli Payne and Francesca Taporco also join the Trojans after leading Fairview Junior High School last season.

Outlook: The Trojans start the season with three games in four days this week. Shaw said it’s a grueling preseason schedule, which includes Bainbridge Island, Sequim and Central Kitsap high schools, and it doesn’t help the that the team missed practices last week because of the snow storm. Nonetheless, the Trojans are expected to rack up a winning season under Shaw. The team’s goal is to win the league, but they’ll have to go through Port Angeles and Kingston high schools to do so, Shaw said. She added that the team is sick about ending its last two seasons with losses to Timberline High School in the district playoffs. Shaw said the team will have to overcome that obstacle to find a way to the state tournament.

Central Kitsap High School

Narrows League (4A)

Head coach: Denise Baxter (17th season)

Last year’s record: 16-9

Returners: Baxter said the team should have no problem with chemistry as most of last year’s team, including all five starters, will return for another run at a playoff spot. Seniors Kristen Anthony, Brittany Zawadzki, Maggie Coleman, Krista Stabler and Lindsey Simonis are the most experienced pieces to the puzzle. Juniors Krista Stabler, Jenna Warner, Gwen Ryno and Leslie Guzman will also add depth to a Cougars squad on the brink of another winning season under Baxter.

Newcomers: The team’s lone newcomer is Demi Holbrook, a junior transfer whose experience should go a long way for Central Kitsap.

Outlook: The Cougars have the ability to produce a solid team with the same starting five. Expectations are high, Baxter said, and the team will be challenged as the league sends four teams, instead of the usual six or seven, to the West Central District tournament due to the Narrows League realignment. The Bay and Bridge division merger will make for a healthy challenge, Baxter said. Baxter, who led Central Kitsap to a league title in 2003, said the team is motivated to know they have to finish in the top-4, or they’ll be sent home in February. The Cougars ended last season with a loss to Puyallup High School in the Class 4A West Central District tournament.

Klahowya Secondary School

Olympic League (2A)

Head coach: Don Farrell (4th season)

Last year’s record: 10-12

Returners: Jonica Durbin, Jolyn Bowling, Melissa Burleson and Jordan Dixon make up the team’s returning senior class. Durbin will be the team’s go-to player in the post. The senior post player said earlier this month that the program’s turnaround is impressive, but she wants to help increase their win total again this season.

Newcomers: Quincy Rouse is the top newcomer to Farrell’s team this season. Rouse, a transfer from Crosspoint Academy, is expected to add depth to the roster after Klahowya lost Jessica Drake and Carly McElwee.

Outlook: The Eagles’ toughest obstacle may be sustaining the program’s increase in total victories during the last few seasons. Farrell has Klahowya on track to finish in the middle of the league standings, but the pressure is on to keep the momentum. Klahowya will showcase a younger team with a depleted post presence. Klahowya’s players have bought into Farrell’s program, Durbin said, which should go a long way for a school still building a tradition. The Eagles ended last season with a loss to Fife in the Class 2A West Central District playoffs.

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