Editor's Note: This story is included in The Chronicle's 2022-23 Prep Basketball Preview, which is published in the Thursday edition.
The more things change, the more they stay the same in the 2A EvCo girls game.
Twelve athletes were named to the 2A EvCO all-league teams after last season. Of those, eight were seniors from Tumwater and W.F. West — four from the T-Birds, four from the Bearcats.
Eight of the 12 best players in the league, all gone and having to be replaced this season. And yet, it’s still set to be the same two programs looking down on everyone else from the top this time around, and once again they don’t plan on stopping at success in league.
Tumwater, which had an early exit in the first round of the 2A state tournament last year after taking the top seed into the bracket, brings back first-team all-leaguer Kyle Waltermeyer as its lone returning starter. But if the T-Birds were going to have to find new pieces to fit around her anyway, the process was exacerbated by their star missing time early due to injury and illness. So far, they haven’t slowed down one bit.
In Waltermeyer’s absence, junior Regan Brewer and freshman Rhylee Beebe have stepped into the leading roles on the offensive side of the ball. There’s no reason to think the T-Birds won’t be their usual dominant force, especially once they get back to full strength.
After taking fifth at State last year, W.F. West has to reload, but gets an easy piece to build around in 6-3 sophomore Julia Dalan in the middle. So far, Dalan has cracked double-digits in every game the Bearcats have played, and while few have starting experience, Kyle Karnofski has plenty of pieces to plug in around her. Morgan Rogerson, Lena Fragner, Carlie Deskins, and Grace Simpson have all cracked 10 points at least once this year, with a deep rotation giving plenty of reps to a roster with five sophomores and just one senior.
If there’s going to be a challenger to the top tier of two, it may come out of Aberdeen, where the Bobcats started the season 5-0. Aside from Waltermeyer, Aberdeen junior Maddie Gore is the only returning first-team all-leaguer, has already dropped 40 points in a win over Black Hills, and has a crack at being the league’s top scorer.
Coming off a bounceback season last year, Centralia has a new coach in Austin Danielson, but she brings back a fair few parts. Junior Makayla Chavez leads the charge on the perimeter but has shooters around her in Brooklyn Sprague and Gracie Schofield. Inside, Emily Wilkerson is back as well, as is Kassandra Ritchey and senior Gracee Cline. If the Tigers can hit their groove and find consistent scoring, they could well be challenging for a district spot come the stretch run of the season.
Evergreen 2A Conference at a Glance
Coach: Kyle Karnofski (fourth)
2021-22 record: 21-7 (fifth at state)
Returning starters: Amanda Bennett
Newcomer(s) to watch: Julia Dalan, Carlie Deskins
Quotable: “All of those girls have played and even some of those girls that are newer have been in the program since middle school,” Karnofski said. “They’re definitely greener for their roles but they aren’t new to the program. They’re learning where they can find shots and hunt a bit on defense, but it’s been cool to see where they’ve already grown their game from last year in new roles.” — Kyle Karnoski
Coach: Nathan Buchheit (first)
2021-22 record: 22-3 (state)
Returning starters: Kylie Waltermeyer
Newcomer(s) to watch: Rhylee Beebe, Sydney Sumrok, Kendall Gjurasic
Coach: Davina Serdahl (seventh)
2021-22 record: 8-12
Returning starters: Roisin Stull, Delany Winter, Mandy Andree-Cordell
Newcomer(s) to watch: Grace Hoover, Layna Demers, Sara Haury
Coach: Herb Guscott (fourth)
2021-22 record: 8-12
Returning starters: Claire Johnson, Kylie McMahon
Newcomer(s) to watch: Amanda Aybar
Coach: Austin Danielson (first)
2021-22 record: 7-10
Returning starters: Makayla Chavez, Emily Wilkerson
Newcomer(s) to watch: Gracee Cline, Brooklyn Sprague
Quotable: “I’ve talked about the attitude, the effort, and the execution. If we’ve got a good attitude, we’re giving it our all, and we’re together, any sloppy plays and defensive lapses will sort themselves out.” — Austin Danielson