The youth in the Bonney Lake High boys basketball program has brought a different look for coach Sam Oliver’s team as it looks to capture one of the 3A PCL playoff spots.
Bonney Lake has been finding success this year in a very different way: by bringing some height to the league.
“You can visibly see that this team is quite different than the ones I’ve coached before here,” said Oliver after Bonney Lake’s 68-52 league win over Mount Tahoma on Jan. 11.
It’s quite the different scene as a traditionally guard-heavy Panther squad under Oliver has transformed into one with size as Bonney Lake deploys four players at least 6-foot-5 or taller, led by 6-foot-10 sophomore center Zane Foster.
A team that used to gas opponents by keeping its foot on the gas and not letting up all game has now turned into one that wants to be physical in its new league.
“It’s definitely nice having as many big athletic guys who can be physical down low,” sophomore guard Tyson Lawes said. “That’s helped us guards out in getting open looks.”
The new-look squad has Bonney Lake (7-6, 4-4) sitting in fourth place in the 3A PCL as Foster, Grant Jeter (6-foot-5), Ryan Arpin (6-foot-5) and Zach Goff (6-foot-5) have brought on a more physical game coach Oliver hasn’t seen in some time.
“I’ve gained some strength during the offseason in order to be more physical down low, grab the boards and plug up the lane,” Foster said.
In one offseason, Foster, a second-year varsity player, has grown much bigger than his string-bean-like figure last year, and the work has paid off for the Panthers’ big man as he has produced improved results.
In the win over Mount Tahoma, Foster was dominant on the defensive end all game long as the center notched a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds while blockingfour shots.
“He never gives up on the defensive end of the floor,” Oliver said. “He might have an off night in finding his shot, but he’s always there for us as a defender.”
Stadium got a little revenge on Friday as the Tigers handed Bonney Lake a loss, 54-47, forcing the two teams to split the season series.
Bonney Lake travels to second-place Wilson (11-2, 7-1) on Wednesday (Jan. 18), and then closes out the week traveling to league-leading Lincoln (13-0, 8-0) on Friday.
“You can’t be afraid of those teams,” Foster said. “We believe we can match with them if we play hard and don’t back down.”
But with some young players and a good amount of height on the roster, Bonney Lake’s new-look squad has the Panthers confident in the present and the future as well.
“There’s some tough schools, especially the Tacoma schools,” Lawes said. “We just have to play smart and look for our shots, we should be able to match up with any of the schools in the league.”