Gateway: Sports

Bullpen: Five things to watch for in local sports this winter

After a fun fall sports season, we’ve successfully transitioned indoors for the winter sports season for basketball, boys swimming, wrestling and girls bowling. It figures to be a compelling season for both Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools. Here are some story lines to keep track of during the winter months.

Is the Gig Harbor girls basketball team a state title contender?

That may be a bit much to ask, but the team’s two stars are back for one final season together and will certainly have their sights set on the state’s top spot. Senior Maddie Willett and junior Brynna Maxwell are two of the state’s top players, and Gig Harbor already made the Class 3A state tournament a season ago, when Maxwell emerged as a sophomore. With the confidence that can only come with having more experience under their belts, the Tides figure to be a tough matchup for most schools.

That’s been true so far this season, as Gig Harbor knocked off Class 4A opponent Kentlake, 59-54, and blew out Curtis, 62-29. Barring something completely unforeseen, the Tides should cruise through the Class 3A South Sound Conference. It will be interesting to see how far Gig Harbor can advance through the postseason.

Can Peninsula boys basketball win league?

After starting slow a season ago with a young team, Peninsula emerged as the most improved team in the conference, and now returns the majority of its production from a season ago. Senior forward Seth Kasteler and senior guard Elijah McLaughlin bring plenty of scoring ability to the Seahawks. Second-year coach Matt Robles will hope the rest of the squad around those two can step up and deliver some big wins in a tough league with the likes of Timberline and North Thurston.

How will Peninsula wrestling look this year?

With the departure of state tournament wrestlers Michael Campigotto, Seth Wahto, Drew Ramsey and Roger Kaffer to graduation, Peninsula has some big shoes to fill on the mat this year. But Mark Nickels’ program tends to reload every year, and this season shouldn’t be different. Expect some new names to emerge this season for the Seahawks’ squad. Junior Isaac Casey, a linebacker for the Peninsula football team, could be primed for a big year in the 152-pound weight class.

Can the Peninsula girls basketball team take the next step?

Peninsula posted an impressive 16-8 record a season ago. With junior guard Belle Frazier and senior center Kirsten Ritchie returning, the Seahawks could surprise some folks this year. New coach Mike Schick will have plenty to work with this season, with a team that could make some waves in the playoffs.

How will the Gig Harbor bowling team fare in its inaugural season?

It’s anyone’s guess how the Tides will perform, as baseball coach Pete Jansen will coach the team in its first season. With most, if not all, the girls on the team having limited bowling backgrounds, it should be a year of immense improvement across the board for Gig Harbor in Tacoma’s Tower Lanes.