Kyle Karnofski said that last season was the most fun he’s had as the coach at W.F. West.
Last winter, the Bearcats, led by All-Area MVP Julia Dalan, went 20-7, finished atop the 2A EvCo and advanced to the state quarterfinals in Yakima.
Now, with Dalan and several other contributors back in the fold this winter, Karnofski is hopeful that the Bearcats are in store for another successful season.
“I’m looking forward to it again,” Karnofski said. “And I’m hoping we can replicate a lot of what we did last year.”
It starts with Dalan, the 6-foot, 3-inch center who set multiple school records last season, including points, double-doubles and blocks. But nearly all of last season’s starting lineup is back as well, including all-leaguers Amanda Bennett and Lena Fragner.
Grace Simpson, who stepped into a starting role in the middle of last season, is also back.
Karnofski said that having so many returning players won’t just help in games, but also in practice, where the older girls can show the younger girls the ropes.
“These girls have been here, they understand and they’ve set the groundwork,” Karnofski said. “It’s a big thing for the older girls to set that example and for the younger girls to learn how to buy into that, see how we work and how we do things. Our older girls are doing a good job of that.”
Also returning is team captain Carly Deskins, who missed the second half of last season with a knee injury.
“I’m definitely happy she’s back,” Karnofski said. “She’s a big piece of what we do … Having her go down really hurt us. Her gameplay is more than points, stats and all that stuff. She’s just been invested 100 percent since she was 12 or 13 years old as a middle schooler coming to summer camps, so it’s super cool for her to be back.”
Morgan Rogerson is the only starter from last year’s group who is not back, and while Karnofski noted she “did all the dirty work,” he also noted that he is confident that someone will step into that role this year.
“She was the ultimate team player,” Karnofski said. “These girls know that somebody has to fill into that.”
Karnoski said the focus heading into this season will not only be on the continued growth of the group that has been together, but also on the integration of younger players who may find bigger roles this season.
“We bring back a lot,” Karnofski said. “But the big thing … we've got to find a way to fit everyone's strengths so we can trust one another and use those strengths to win games.”