Editor's Note: This story is included in The Chronicle's 2022-23 Prep Basketball Preview, which is published in the Thursday edition.
Coming off a season that ended with the unthinkable — two Pacific 2B League teams playing for a district title — the Central 2B League looks to be well and completely up for grabs this winter.
Wahkiakum, the reigning league champs, returns all-C2BL co-MVP Reigha Niemeyer multiple other key pieces from Rob Garrett’s havoc-inducing system, but multiple February losses — and a failure to repeat as district champs — proved the Mules mortal going into this year. And there are plenty of teams looking to supplant them.
Early on this season, Adna could well have the best chance to do so, with a high-flying offense and multiple big wins. The Pirates bring back Karlee VonMoss in the post and sharp-shooting Brooklyn Loose on the perimeter, but have added a trio of sophomores on the outside, with Gaby Guard, Danika Hallom, and Kendall Humphrey all contributing in big ways. Freshman Bailey Chapman also comes in to be another presence in the post.
Over in Tiger Town, Napavine could have something to say as well. The Tigers have a handful of players who can find the bucket, with transfer Morgan Hamilton, Grace Gall, Avery Schutz, Hayden Kaut, and Jessie McCoy all hitting double-digits in scoring within the first five games of the season.
If there’s a wild card in the deck, it could be Rainier, which loses first-team all-league Isabella Holmes and a few other key pieces, but brings in sophomore Angelica Askey, who’s donning the Mountaineers’ orange and black for the first time after averaging double digits as a freshman at 3A Yelm. She’s taken over the role of leading scorer in stride, but Rainier also brings Haleigh Hanson and Bryn Beckman, who can score in bunches, and Brooklyn Swenson to facilitate the offense.
But if carnage is on the menu, it’s not just a matter of who’s at the very top that’ll be interesting. Two games into league play, eight of the 10 C2BL teams already had a win. Toledo and Morton-White Pass both have the pieces needed to separate themselves from the bottom, and even spring an upset if the circumstances line up. And with no huge favorites, Onalaska and Winlock, who got off to slower starts than their compatriots, are going to have puncher’s chances against just about every one.
And across the way, the Pacific 2B League doesn’t look much clearer, with Kyra Gardner off at WSU after pretty much winning the district championship for Raymond by herself. Get ready for chaos, there’s going to be plenty of it.
Central 2B League at a Glance
Coach: Dracy McCoy (second)
2021-22 record: 13-7 (districts)
Returning starters: Angie Gil Munoz, Kindyl Kelly
Newcomer(s) to watch: Kiya Peppers, Natalie Cardenas
Coach: Randy Wood (second)
2021-22 record: 11-12 (districts)
Returning starters: Abbie Marcil
Newcomer(s) to watch: Ryah Stanley, Stefi Arceo-Hanson, Paige Hill, Beth Bowen
Coach: Brandon Eygabroad (fifth)
2021-22 record: 16-8 (state)
Returning starters: Bryn Beckman, Brooklynn Swenson
Newcomer(s) to watch: Angelica Askey, Haleigh Hanson, Janess Blackburn
Coach: Shane Schutz (15th)
2021-22 record: 11-10 (districts)
Returning starters: Danielle Tupuola, Morgan Hamilton, Avery Schutz, Keira O’Neill, Grace Gall
Newcomer(s) to watch: Hayden Kaut, Taylen Evander, Jessie McCoy
Quotable: ”We have to get mentally tougher. Mental toughness isn’t enduring pain, it’s facing adversity and dealing with it. We still need to be better at that, we have to get tougher both physically and mentally — that’s what championship teams do. They don’t worry about things that might go wrong, they accomplish what might go right.” — Shane Schutz
Coach: Curt Atkinson (fourth)
2021-22 record: 6-13 (districts)
Returning starters: Natalia Armstrong, Mckenzee Mays, Malia Armstrong, Kiera Miller
Newcomer(s) to watch: Anna Gonzeles, Karah Fairhart
Quotable: “We just want to take another step up the league ladder. We’ve been able to do that the last few years, we have some talented players but we still make some youth mistakes. I’m really hoping we get a regional game, but in our district, it’s going to be tough. If we can take the next step, get our scoring points per game up, turnovers go down as we get more experience. We want to get more fundamentally sound and work our way up.” — Curt Atkinson
Coach: Chris Bannish (11th)
2021-22 record: 20-8 (state)
Returning starters: Karlee VonMoos, Brooklyn Loose
Newcomer(s) to watch: Gaby Guard, Danika Hallom, Kendall Humphrey, Bailey Chapman
Quotable: “For us, it’s going to be about buying in defensively. I feel like we’re going to be able to score the ball. If we can match everybody’s physicality and play defense, we’re going to be fine. But sometimes we find those lulls where we give up some easy buckets on mismatches, switches, things like that where we’ve got to be able to hone in, take a gameplan and put it out there on the floor.” — Chris Bannish