Powers in the Paint: In Perimeter-Driven Game, Local Posts Still Find Ways to Dominate


Editor's Note: This story is included in The Chronicle's 2022-23 Prep Basketball Preview, which is published in the Thursday edition. 

The game of basketball has changed much over the years, with various teams across the area lobbing 3-pointers from distance, running at breakneck speeds, and playing most of the game outside the 3-point line. 

Still, in 2022, the post is alive and well in Lewis County. 

Though the game has certainly moved out past that 3-point line — especially at the college and professional level — local forward standouts are making teams and games adjust to them, and not the other way around. 

“I can’t be worried about it,” W.F. West post Julia Dalan said. “I just have to play my game, I have to take advantage of what I’ve been given with the job and purpose I have.”

And certainly, an imposing height is enough in of itself to give opposing basketball teams fits, inside and out. Local standouts such as the W.F. West boys’ Soren Dalan (6-foot-11), W.F. West girls’ Julia Dalan (6-foot-3), and Morton-White Pass’ Josh Salguero (6-foot-7) can attest to that, as well as the relatively shorter Karlee VonMoos of Adna, who at just 5-foot-10 is a nightmare to gameplan for in the middle. 

Since a young age, both Dalan’s, Salguero, and VonMoos have been a defensive emphasis for teams even before they became known commodities. 

“When I’m warming up, other teams know and I hear them say, ‘That’s Soren,’” W.F. West’s Soren Dalan said. “When I get the ball they’re coming with the double. It’s just communicating and trusting my teammates.” 

For the Dalan’s in Chehalis — Soren is the senior older brother with Julia entering her sophomore season at W.F. West — both have faced double- and triple-teams their entire basketball life. 

While Soren has said communication was the biggest adjustment he had to make when he began facing all those double teams, he hasn’t had to adjust his game much outside of taking the occasional midrange shot and guarding all the way out to the wing. 

His sister, meanwhile, is stepping into a larger role on a new-look girls team in Chehalis that graduated four starters from a year ago. 

“My coaches came up to me and said, ‘they’re going to double you and you’re going to have to learn how to deal with that,’” Julia Dalan said. “Obviously some plays are meant to kick it out, but there’s other times where they tell me to suck it up and power through the contact. It’s more of a mental game, a lot of times they’ll just talk and I have to tune them out.”

In 2B land, Salguero is a focal point of an MWP attack that wants to run, get inside, and beat you on the glass. After sitting out the first half of last season, Salguero says that in the early goings of the 2022-23 season, his team has gelled together quickly and he hasn’t had to adjust much, even against more perimeter-centric teams. 

“I feel like I can still work a lot inside and score all my points,” he said. “Our team scores quite a bit inside, I don’t feel like the way the game is played affects me that much. It kinda sucks for me a little bit to get that much attention, but it opens it up for my teammates. A lot of the focus is on me so during games there’s a chance for everyone else on my team to score and do what we need to win. It doesn’t bother me too much, but every team does focus on me.”

Alongside guards and forwards with balanced skillsets, Salguero’s focus is just on making the right decision. 

Similarly in the girls game, while VonMoos doesn’t dominate teams with imposing height, her presence on the low block is menacing enough for teams to gameplan defenses around. 

And while VonMoos typically won’t rain 3-pointers down from distance, she likes to work both inside and out with more floor spacing in today’s hoops world. 

“This year a lot more people are scouting me compared to last year or the year before,” she said. “Last year is when I really started emerging as more of a focus. We started running a lot of stuff that ran through me. I like working with my back to the basket, that’s where most of my moves are focused. It’s nice when I do get to go out on the perimeter too, because I get to do more.”

But no matter how much the game changes, across whatever level, local posts such as the Dalan’s, Salguero, and VonMoos aren’t going to change their games too much. They’d rather let the game and opponents they play adjust to what they want to do. 

Both inside and out, the local post-up game is still thriving, and if this year’s crop of local standouts down low is any indication, it won’t be going away anytime soon, either.