It’s anybody’s guess who the top team out of the 2A Evergreen Conference is this season, at least in boys hoops.
Defending league champion W.F. West does return some strong players, like Dirk Plakinger and junior up-and-comer Soren Dalan, but it’ll also be asking for a lot of production from new faces. With the departure of league MVP Carter McCoy, and others, the Bearcats will look to win another league championship behind mostly new player leadership.
Tumwater and Black Hills, which finished just behind the Bearcats, will also be replacing some key talent. For the Thunderbirds, first-team guard Luke Brewer returns along with Ryan Otton, as they look to improve on a strong season that ended in some disappointment last year.
The team that beat them in districts, the Wolves, return Johnnie Stallings, Luke Ellison, Andre Byounne, and Keagan Rongon, hoping to build on a third-place finish at districts last spring.
All three have high expectations to compete at the top of the state ladder this season.
Behind those three feature four up-and-coming programs who had varied success last season. Shelton and Aberdeen finished fourth and sixth, respectively, as they look to improve and compete with the top-tier of EvCo teams.
Centralia, which went 3-7 in league play last season, has its work cut out for it, replacing a good deal of production from the spring. Landon Kaut, a 6-foot-4 post, returns, and will be the key to the offense as the Tigers look to improve this fall. Along with Kaut, Brandon Yeung will feature for the Tigers.
Down in Rochester, the Warriors went 1-13 last season, but they return four starters and look to be a much-improved squad. Larenz Payne, Ben Clouse, Tyler Klatush, Parker McAferty, and Camron Henderson are all players that will be heavily involved in the rotation.
Any way you look at it, the league is wide open this season, and looks as strong as ever. Though the Bearcats were the top team a year ago, a slew of departures means that they’ll have to rely on new names and faces to repeat as league champs, with Tumwater, Black Hills, and the rest nipping at their heels.