It’s sort of humorous how the White River girls basketball team sees itself – in the mirror and compared to other programs.
The brand of basketball the Hornets play isn’t glitzy, or often fluid, or even particularly high scoring.
But they bring the fight to opponents, even though they never think of themselves as the top team.
“I guess we’ve just never looked at ourselves as the best,” Hornets star forward Kennedy Hobert said. “I mean, look at Chehalis – they are so good. And then we beat them and think maybe we underestimate ourselves.”
Nobody else underestimates White River, which grabs The News Tribune’s preseason No. 1 ranking in Class 2A for the first time in school history.
“It says a lot about my kids, and the respect people have toward our program,” said White River coach Chris Gibson, entering his 16th season at the Buckley school.
“It’s a little feather in the cap.”
Among the other top-billed candidates:
• Federal Way is the South Puget Sound League South favorite in boys basketball, and is ranked No. 2. Bellarmine Prep, which returns four of its five starters from last season’s Class 4A state semifinal squad, sits right behind the Eagles at No. 3. Bothell is No. 1.
• With transfer Ahmaad Rorie running the point, Ar’Mond Davis now a full-time starter for the first time and, of course, reigning co-Narrows 4A player of the year Tre’Shaun Fletcher still in tow – Lincoln slots at No. 2 in 3A boys behind Metro League powerhouse Rainier Beach.
• A case can certainly be made that two-time 1A boys champion Cascade Christian could be No. 1. That nod, however, goes to defending champion Lynden Christian. The Cougars are close behind at No. 3.
• In girls 4A, Brittany and Jordan McPhee of Mount Rainier lead arguably the west side’s best program. But history proves the Greater Spokane League’s dominance in the state playoffs, so point guard Laura Stockton and Gonzaga Prep get the No. 1 ranking ahead of the Rams.
So, the only local school to sit atop the rankings is White River. Is it deserved?
The Hornets have been a model of consistency since Gibson arrived in 1997. They have made state appearances in 12 of the past 14 seasons, including back-to-back semifinal showings the past two seasons.
Hobert, the reigning SPSL 2A player of the year, leads a group of three starting seniors: Crystal Narolski takes on some of the dirty work inside, and is an adequate interior scorer; Sutton Mills is anotherin a long line of pesky Hornets guards – she gets after foes.
What really boosts this team is the maturity of its two sophomore starters – guard Amanda Lance and forward Kristin Sturdivan. Lance has excellent off-dribble skills as the lead point guard. Sturdivan is a reliable outside shooter.
“This team has a lot of passion for the game,” Gibson said. “And the kids get along. There is no bickering. There is no back-biting. And I think we are going to be more consistent from the outside this season.”
Hobert and Mills, both co-captains, were asked to describe this White River squad in one word.
“No. 1” did not come to mind.
“Determined,” Hobert said.
“Dedicated,” Mills added.
PRESEASON ALL-STATE GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM
Brittany McPheeMount RainierF6-0junior
A charging bull to the basket (22.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg); SPSL North MVP.
Small-school star with big-time scoring punch; ASU signee at wing.
Brooke PahukoaLake StevensG5-10senior
Straight from YMCA basketball to one of best guards around; Wesco MVP.
Scored 35 points in last year’s ‘2B’ title game; top 2014 point guard recruit
Laura StocktonGonzaga PrepG5-6sophomore
Fiery, competitive and edgy – just like John, her NBA Hall-of-Fame father.
C Beth Carlson, Archbishop Murphy, 6-2, sr.; F Kennedy Hobert, White River, 5-10, sr.; G Jade Redmon, Mead, 5-6, sr.; G Haley Smith, Skyline, 6-1, sr.; G Cori Woodward, Prairie, 5-8, sr.
PRESEASON ALL-STATE BOYS BASKETBALL TEAM
Shaqquan Aaron Rainier BeachF6-7junior
State’s top 2014 recruit sat out last season, transferred to Seattle in summer.
Ridiculous skills for big point guard; Gonzaga, UW offers on table.
Colorado signee is shooter and distributor from wing; co-Narrows 3A MVP.
UCLA signee scares with his off-dribble moves, kills with sweetest shooting stroke in state.
Lucas MeikleBellarmine PrepF6-8senior
Will take old-school game and follow alum Casey Calvary to Gonzaga.
G Brett Bailey, University, 6-5, sr.; G Marquis Davis, Rainier Beach, 5-9, sr.; F D.J. Fenner, Seattle Prep, 6-6, sr.; F Josh Martin, Bothell, 6-8, jr.; G Ahmaad Rorie, Lincoln, 6-0, jr.Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org