2A Boys: Can Anyone in the EvCo Pull Away From the Pack?


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

The question at the top end of the 2A Evergreen Conference — on the boys’ side of things — takes two parts. First: can anyone pull away from the pack? And second: can anyone take it and run with it in the postseason?

Last year saw Tumwater answer both questions with a definitive “yes.” This winter, the story will be whether the T-Birds can repeat their historic success, and whether anyone else can join them on the journey, with W.F. West breathing down their heels, Black Hills showing flashes, and the 2A GSHL to the south looking its usual dominant self.

Tumwater loses the obvious post presence of Ryan Otton from its team that took fourth in state last season, but early returns suggest that the Thunderbirds aren’t exactly slowing down. Now, the strength of the team comes on the perimeter, where seniors Luke Brewer — the reigning 2A EvCo MVP —  and Andrew Collins — himself a first-team all-league selection — return to form possibly the best backcourt in the district. 

In the post, it’ll be up to 6-6 senior Gunnar Harroun to pick up where Otton left off and give Josh Wilson’s squad the final dimension, with Tanner Brewer pitching in as well.

Just down the road at Black Hills, the Wolves may start the season on the outside looking in, but have the pieces to change that quickly. Simon Trujillo-Nysted can score with the best of them, Keagan Rongen provides height down low, and Johnnie Stallings, Jack Ellison, and Harrison Pilon have all put in big games early.

But if there’s going to be a true challenge to Tumwater’s authority, it’ll come out of Chehalis. Six-foot, 11-inch senior Soren Dalan may well be the most physically imposing player in this corner of the state at any classification, and so far he’s living up to his size, at times single-handedly carrying W.F. West on offense. The question for the Bearcats — who were the only 2A EvCo team to beat Tumwater last year — will be whether they can find pieces to fit in around him on offense. So far, that answer has been muddled, with Tyler Klatush, Parker Eiswald, and Gage Brumfield showing flashes, but W.F. West has time to figure itself out before the games really start to matter.

In Centralia, the road is a long one, and head coach Kyle Donahue is playing the long game. With just one real rotation player coming back, along with two swing players, the Tigers’ lineup is going to look quite different from last season, and with that in mind — and a roster filled with underclassmen — the sixth-year head coach is looking for for development early on in this winter more than anything else.

So far, the wins haven’t been easy to come by, but those developments have started to emerge. Chief among them has been the arrival of sophomore Carlos Vallejo, who’s averaging a shade under 17 points per game thus far.

Evergreen 2A Conference at a Glance

W.F. West 

Coach: Chris White (eighth)

2021-22 record: 13-9 (regionals)

Returning starters: Soren Dalan, Gage Brumfield

Newcomer(s) to watch: Braden Jones, Parker Eiswald, Tyler Klatush, Weston Potter

Quotable: “One thing we learned was the value of defense, we had some really good defenders on that team. They were instrumental to our success. Defensively they played so hard, it was really important to us to shut down those elite players in our league. We hope to find that identity and find who our pitbulls on defense are.” — Chris White



Coach: Josh Wilson

2021-22 record: 18-5 (fourth at state)

Returning starters: Luke Brewer, Andrew Collins, Connor Hopkins 

Newcomers to watch: Gunnar Harroun, Clayton Morgan



Coach: Gino McDuffy (first)

2021-22 record: 4-16

Returning starters: Carson Rotter 

Newcomers to watch: Brayden O’Connor

Quotable: “I’m not expecting anything more than just competing. I want to build this team to compete, districts, state, whatever, that’s later. Right now we need to find our identity and compete. This is something that the school hasn’t had in the past. We need to change the culture here, and they’ve got that momentum to be a winning team, it’s just about bringing it all together.” — Gino McDuffy


Black Hills 

Coach: Jeff Gallagher (10th) 

2021-22 record: 10-10 (districts) 

Returning starters: Simon Trujillo-Nysted, Johnnie Stallings, Keagan Rongen 

Newcomer(s) to watch: Talon Morrill, Quinton Morrill

Quotable: “We always talk about toughness… That’s how we’re going to have to win. It’s not going to be pretty by any means, but we’ve got some really hard-working kids.” — Jeff Gallagher



Coach: Kyle Donahue (sixth) 

2021-22 record: 6-11 

Returning starters: Cohen Ballard

Newcomer(s) to watch: Carlos Vallejo, Von Wasson, Brady Sprague

Quotable: “For me, it’s a matter of who’s going to fit in, who’s going to pick it up, who’s going to be ready (immediately), and who’s going to be ready in four or five weeks.” — Kyle Donahue