Gig Harbor High School basketball player Drew Parrish heard it all last year. The Tides failed to reach the playoffs after posting a 6-14 record and had a stretch where they lost six consecutive league games in January.
“How much are you going to lose by tonight?” students would quip.
It didn’t sit well with the 6-foot-3 center.
“It was rough,” Parrish said. “We’d only have three rows in the student section. It’s tough to play in front of that lack of energy. We’re eager to prove some people wrong. The only way to do that is to win some games. We want to get that bad taste out of mouths and get some revenge this season.”
The good news for Gig Harbor? While the Tides have been a young team the last couple seasons, this year’s group has some experience. Parrish has been playing on the varsity squad since he was a freshman, and his post moves and lefty hook will make him one of the best interior players in the Class 3A South Sound Conference.
“We’re feeling very comfortable,” Parrish said. “We have so many people back. This year, it’s almost all sophomores, juniors and seniors. That makes it a lot easier. We’ve played together as a group, so we have that chemistry together.”
Parrish was named an honorable mention on the all-league selections a season ago, alongside teammate Kaden Garnaas, now a senior guard.
“We have a lot of basketball guys this year,” Garnaas said. “When it comes to defense, where to be, helping, talking, we click a lot better. On the offensive side, it’s the same thing, making the open pass, looking for the open guy. It gives us that advantage. We know each other, where we’re going to be. We get that head start going into the season.”
Missing the playoffs last winter provided plenty of motivation in the offseason, which saw the Gig Harbor players take on an increased seriousness and sense of urgency.
“I think we stepped it up a notch,” Garnaas said. “We were working out more, practicing more, getting more serious in practice. We really clicked on that, more so than other years. We just made more of a serious effort toward getting stronger, running our playrs right, the basketball IQ aspect of it. I think that’s a big part of it.”
Capital returns first-team all-league selections Chris Penner and Grant Erickson, and figures to be the favorite in the South Sound Conference. But North Thurston lost league MVP Jeremy Spencer, first-team selection Clay Christian and honorable mention Gunner Neilsen, while Timberline lost current Wichita State guard Erik Stevenson.
“I think it’ll be wide open this year,” Parrish said. “I think we need to take advantage of that opportunity. There’s not really a dominant team out there this year.”
Garnaas said he thinks Gig Harbor’s experience this year makes them a viable contender.
“Every team took a hit in the loss of seniors,” Garnaas said. “I think it opens the gates for anyone to take it. I think we’ve got a great chance at doing it. We have a jumpstart compared to most teams. I think the floodgates are open. That No. 1 spot in league is up for grabs. I like our odds.”
2018-19 GIG HARBOR SCHEDULE
Nov. 27: at Redmond, 7:15 p.m.
Dec. 5: Timberline, 7 p.m.
Dec. 7: at Central Kitsap, 7 p.m.
Dec. 12: Shelton, 7 p.m.
Dec. 14: at North Thurston, 7 p.m.
Dec. 19: at Capital, 7 p.m.
Jan. 2: at Kingston, 3:30 p.m.
Jan. 4: Yelm, 7 p.m.
Jan. 9: Peninsula, 8 p.m.
Jan. 11: at Timberline, 7 p.m.
Jan. 16: Central Kitsap, 7 p.m.
Jan. 18: at Shelton, 7 p.m.
Jan. 23: North Thurston, 7 p.m.
Jan. 25: Capital, 7 p.m.
Jan. 29: at Yelm, 7 p.m.
Jan. 31: at Peninsula, 8 p.m.