For a program clearly visible on the local girls basketball scene and up and down the Tacoma-Seattle corridor, Wilson High School does not have many secrets left to hide.
But one of them will surely be revealed before the Class 3A regional round of the state tournament Saturday at Mount Tahoma High School.
Coach Michelle Birge has an affinity toward breaking out theme-based warm-up T-shirts for this time of the season. Last year, the Rams had cool, alternate-looking camouflage T-shirts for their regional-round game against Ferndale — a 59-54 victory that sent the 3A Narrows League champions to back-to-back Tacoma Dome appearances.
And this Friday?
The Rams are not telling. In fact, their leader Kapri Morrow had a tough time recalling Tuesday what the design looked like.
“You saw it just last week,” said Birge in a teasing tone.
What all three of the Rams’ frontcourt starters — Morrow, a senior, and juniors Kiki Knox and Erica Hamlin — did remember was the team’s T-shirt slogan: “Love, Faith and Courage.”
“I am excited,” Morrow said. “We have been playing a lot better lately — more disciplined.”
On Saturday, the Rams won their second 3A West Central District championship in three years, defeating Sumner, 59-50, at Puyallup High School.
How far this team can go will likely fall to how well its frontcourt continues to play:
She is the player Birge knows best and trusts most.
“I know what Kapri is thinking, feeling and doing,” Birge said. “It comes from a look.”
And in the huddle, Morrow’s teammates know when it is time to joke or sing, and when it’s time to take care of business.
“We call her mom because she has a sweet heart,” Knox said. “When she is serious, you know she is serious.”
Knox noted she gets her toughness from growing up playing against boys at the downtown YMCA and on other local courts.
“I knew I had to get tougher to play against them. That is where my strength and rebounding skills came from,” Knox said. “You look at us, I think we are the best rebounding team in the state.”
Her family moved back to Washington in 2012. She spent her first two seasons at Bethel High School before transferring to Wilson.
“Practices here are a lot harder,” Hamlin said.
She is also a bit of a free spirit who likes to sing and dance during pregame warmups.
“Erica has a poker face. I can’t tell if she is scared, mad, sad or what,” Birge said. “But she has great tenacity and work ethic.”
Wilson also has returning point guard Josie Matz, who shined during last year’s 3A state championships. She has been more of a distributor this season, feeding a beastly frontcourt led by a hungry Morrow.
“She feels our team,” Birge said, “should be in the hunt for a state championship.”