Colville could surprise in GNL

No seniors on2012-2013 teamNever count out a Colville High girl’s basketball team. The Indians, who graduated three All-Northeast A performers last season and move up to the 2A Great Northern League this winter for the two-year WIAA enrollment cycle, should still be formidable.After all, while there are no seniors on this year’s roster, the 2012-2013 CHS varsity is a group that head coach Ray Clark and his daughter, assistant coach Kajsa Brons, have worked with since they were fourth graders.Speed in spadesYes, there is youth—and there is basketball experience.“That’s one of our team strengths, the number of years they’ve’ played together,” Clark said last week. “It’s a balanced group as far as scoring. And defensively, we are a better team right now than we were last season.”CHS finished 16-8 last season. That was good for a second place finish in the NEA behind Freeman. Highlight of the season for the Indians was a District 7 championship.While Colville lost some significant scoring and rebounding off that team, the Indians return a solid nucleus of players from the 2011-2012 team. “We will compete with this group,” Clark said. “It’s certainly the fastest team that I’ve ever coached. If we wanted to put together a track relay team, it would probably be quicker than our track team. We just have to see how that speed will translate.“To effective utilize our speed, we have to be in the best shape in the league.”AT A GLANCEJuniors—Taryn Main, 5-4 point guard. Had a great off-season, according to Clark. All that additional off-season play “has put her at a much higher level than last year.” One of the team’s most improved defensive players. Very fast and a good outside shooter and has learned to penetrate.Sadie Learn, 5-9. Another player who Clark says has made some “amazing progress” in her game. Like several other CHS players, competed for the Spokane Dawgs AAU team. Will play all five positions for the Indians. Tough competitor “who only has one gear,” according to Clark. Tyra Brons, 5-7 guard. Another CHS player and team leader who improved markedly during the summer after playing for the Dawgs. One of the team’s best three-point shooters on a team that shot 34 percent from three-point distance in summer league play, where they finished 17-3.Jessie Wittmeyer, 5-4 guard. Maybe the team’s best defensive player and another of Clark’s very fast kids. “She has a real nose for the ball and is a great practice player,” Clark says. Led the team in assists during the summer. Very unselfish and see’s the floor well. One of the team’s leading rebounders at 5-4.Malia Luu, 5-3. Clark says that in the past six months, this burner has learned how to “harness her incredible speed to the basketball court.” Vastly improved ball-handler who gets to the rim very easily with her quickness. Easily one of the team’s best defenders.McKenna Cabbage, 5-10 post. Another very good athlete. Will play the four and five spots. Very cerebral player who will likely take on more of a scoring load this winter.Courtney Rainer, 5-9. Up from the junior varsity, Rainer has great hops and runs the floor well. Has improved her rebounding immeasurably with all the summer work.Sophomores—Megan Lee, 6-1 post. Could be one of the top post players in the GNL this winter. “Megan has the potential to be very good,” Clark says. “Her challenges are in the physicality of the game, playing strong and how much work can she get in?” Will be a major contributor. “It’s up to Megan and her strength and aggressiveness how many minutes she plays…I know that we should be better when she’s on the floor.”Elaine Taft, 5-8. Up from the junior varsity. A “tremendous nose for the ball,” according to Clark. Good shooter inside with some serious upside. Will provide solid defense inside for the Indians. OUTLOOKIf the Indians can find enough scoring, they certainly could make some noise in the GNL race. Clark is certainly excited about the challenge of moving back into the GNL.“It is exciting to be going into an unknown league,” he said, adding that he didn’t think the GNL was any more rigorous than the challenges faced by Freeman and company in the very competitive NEA.Clark, assisted by Kajsa Brons, Greg Mace (junior varsity) and Danny Martin (C squad), says he has enjoyed working with a group he’s known for several years through AAU basketball. “These kids have been really fun in practice,” he said. “They communicate very well, the teamwork is great…they have each other’s backs…and there is a willingness to work until they drop.”