Football is now firmly behind us, and what better way to look forward to the new year than compiling all the hoops that's happened, throwing out RPI, or any other computer-generated list, and putting together a completely subjective list of the best teams in each league?
What’s that you say? Nothing could be better than that? I couldn’t agree with you more. Lewis and south Thurston counties have some terrific hoops teams, and with multiple state title contenders, and other teams that could maybe surprise, I’ll be ranking every team in the important leagues (the ones in District 4, of course) immediately following the holiday break.
The T-Birds usurped the Bearcats just before the holiday break at home to keep their perfect record in league intact, and with multiple versatile scorers, Luke Brewer leading the charge, and Ryan Otton returning to the fold, they’ll look to win the league as the wire-to-wire favorite.
The Bearcats fell to Tumwater early in December, but held on to a lead at the half and more than kept up with the EvCo favorites. If the young Bearcats, led by Dirk Plakinger and Soren Dalan, can gel in a short amount of time, they could push for a league title and state bid.
The Wolves have played a tough schedule, and after falling in their season opener, rattled off a slew of good wins before a puzzling loss to Rochester in December. Black Hills is a deep squad led by scoring guard Johnnie Stallings.
The Highclimbers have wins over Centralia and Rochester, but fell to Black Hills and W.F. West in league play. Shelton is much improved from a season ago, and senior guard Charles Thompson is a big part of that.
The Tigers started their season 4-1, and won their league opener against Rochester, 68-44, but have since gone 0-3, including two league losses to Black Hills and Shelton. Centralia is led by senior post Landon Kaut, who leads the Tigers in scoring and rebounding.
The Warriors, after a tough start to the year, pulled off perhaps the biggest upset of the early season, beating Black Hills at home, 58-53 for their lone league win and the Wolves only league loss. Rochester will look to carry that momentum into January with renewed confidence, led by the scoring of guard Tyler Klatush.
The Bobcats have just one win to their name, a victory over 1A Elma, and haven't kept up in any of their other seven games, all double-digit defeats.
The Thunderbirds pulled away from the Bearcats late just before the break, and are one of two unbeaten teams in league, with some of the most impressive wins, including over 4A competition, Woodinville and Bethel. Tumwater has shooters all over the floor and a strong post in Natalie Sumrok that make them the current favorites in the EvCo.
The Bearcats had a strong start, but couldn’t hang on in a loss to Tumwater just before the holidays, but they are still an overwhelming favorite to make state with double-digit wins over Ridgefield, Shelton, and Aberdeen. Drea Brumfield is the focus, but Carlie Deskins and Kyla McCallum have stepped up for W.F. West of late.
One of two unbeatens remaining in league play, the Tigers started the season a surprising 5-0, and beat Rochester, Shelton, and Black Hills to put them in good position to vie for a state bid heading into January. Sophomore post Emily Wilkerson has been strong for Centralia this season, and seniors Jadyn Hawley and Maddie Corwin anchor the Tigers on the defensive end.
The Bobcats have less league wins then Black Hills, but beat them head-to-head and own a winning record out of league play.
Without Addie Ainsworth, the Wolves have struggled, with just two wins over Shelton and Rochester so far this season. Still, two wins over league opponents is a good starting point, and the young Black Hills’ squad could surprise teams down the road.
The Warriors are still looking for their first win of the season, but have gone toe-to-toe with every league opponent they have played other than Tumwater, losing to Centralia and Black Hills by a combined four points. Sofie Sand leads Rochester from the post, and is one of the better players in the league.
The Highclimbers are young, and are also still searching for an elusive first win. The closest they’ve come was a 46-34 loss to Black Hills at home.
The Cruisers have had the most solid year to this point, with just one loss to 2B Rainier. Eatonville has victories over Trico contender La Center, Morton-White Pass, Cascade Christian, and Orting so far this year.
The Beavers couldn’t have dreamed up a better start, with a perfect 4-0 record, but have since fallen to .500 after four straight losses, the latest a defeat at the hands of 2B Toledo. Takari Hickle and company will look to make amends as league play gets underway Jan. 5.
With a loss to 1B Willapa Valley already on their resume, the Grizzlies have just two wins: North Mason and Aberdeen.
A recent victory over Centralia has helped an otherwise tough start to the Bulldogs season. But even after a momentum-booster, Montesano couldn’t keep it going two nights later in a defeat to North Beach.
The Eagles have played just three games, and have just one win against Columbia (White Salmon), with losses to two 2A squads in Shelton and Aberdeen.
The Bulldogs couldn’t keep up with 2A W.F. West, but have since ripped off seven straight wins, including an impressive victory over King’s. Paige Lisherness leads them on the inside and out as a reigning league MVP.
The other squad with a league MVP, the Beavers had disappointing losses to Rainier and Raymond, but have otherwise looked stout, especially on defense. Tenino holds opponents to roughly 36 points per game, and Ashley Schow has been a force on the offensive end.
The Grizzlies have a win over 2A Black Hills this season, and losses to Aberdeen and La Center.
There’s a decently-sized drop off in league here, as the Eagles have just one win and a 31-point loss to 2B Adna this season.
The Cruisers are still looking for a win, and have losses to two 2B squads, Morton-White Pass and Adna.
Since dropping their season opener to 2A Black Hills, the Pirates have ripped off seven straight wins, and are off until a showdown on the road with Toutle Lake on Dec. 31. Adna goes six deep with shooters at every position, led by guards Chase Collins and Braeden Salme.
Though the Riverhawks haven’t played the strongest competition, you can’t argue with their success. They easily boast the top record in the league, and have wins over 1A Tenino, 2A Rochester, and 1B Naselle. Jake Cournyer leads Toledo as its best scorer and point guard.
Another squad that lost its first game but has since rattled off a big win streak, the Mountaineers shocked one of the league’s top squads in Toutle Lake in their second game and haven’t looked back. Guard Ian Sprouffske has been lighting it up for Rainier, which boasts wins over Kalama (without Jackson Esary), Eatonville, and Wahkiakum.
The T-Wolves have been far from consistent, but with eight games already under their belts and wins over Napavine (without Keith Olson), Onalaska, and Stevenson, they check in at No. 4 in the early season. Morton-White Pass has a solid group of contributors, but most nights Gary Dotson has led the Timberwolves in scoring.
Welcoming back Keith Olson to the fold, the Tigers have looked dominant with the senior big man. The district runner-ups have just four games in, but look every bit the league title contender they did last season with James Grose taking another leap from last year. They will almost certainly climb up the rankings in January.
The Chinooks have had trouble staying on the court, after a late start due to football season going long, and a COVID-19 outbreak. But with the return of league MVP favorite Jackson Esary, you can never count out the reigning district champs.
The Ducks have wins over 1A La Center and Montesano, and league opponents Onalaska and Winlock, but an early season double-digit defeat to Rainier has them checking in at No. 7 in the early rankings. Sophomore sensation Zach Swanson will make sure his Ducks push for a state bid as one of the area’s top players, however.
The Mules had a huge victory against Morton-White Pass just before the break, but a .500 record and losses to Adna, Rainier, and 1B Willapa Valley has them sitting at No. 8. Don’t be shocked if this team is also pushing for a state bid later, though.
The Loggers have had a rough go of it early on, with just a single win over league rival Winlock in their second game. Onalaska has lost by double-digits in every other game, all against league opponents in non-league contests.
With just a single win over Lyle, the young Bulldogs arrive in the rankings toward the bottom of the list, with double-digit losses to Wahkiakum, MWP, and Seton Catholic on their schedule.
With losses in each of their eight first games, the Cardinals have youth across the board and are rebuilding, though Nolan Swofford’s return will make Winlock interesting if its young pieces can find a rhythm.
The Mules have shown no signs of slowing up after a district title run last spring, even after losing some of their better players. With losses to just 2A Hockinson and 4A Skyview, Wahkiakum looks every bit the frontrunner it was last season.
The Loggers go eight or nine players deep, boasting one of the most well-balanced rosters in the area, with losses to just Mossyrock and Raymond. Onalaska has the depth to throw different players and matchups at you all game, and Callie Lawrence, the Hamilton sisters, Brooklyn Sandridge and crew will factor in the league race this year.
The Mountaineers don’t have the best record, but each of their first three losses (Mossyrock, Onalaska, and Wahkiakum) are state competitors. Rainier also boasts wins over 2A Black Hills and 1A Tenino.
The Tigers have losses to just Raymond and Wahkiakum, and are another incredibly deep team in the C2BL. Napavine’s press is strong due to the fresh bodies they have to throw at opposing offenses, with Makensee Taliaferro, Natalya Marcial, Grace Gall and company leading the charge.
With the addition of Pe Ell’s Charlie Carper, the Cardinals have become a formidable force in the C2BL. Winlock has gone toe-to-toe with everyone on its schedule, and with Addison Hall, Madison Vigre, and Carper on the floor, the Cards will compete in every game they play in.
The Pirates have found their footing after a poor start to the year, though every one of their losses — save for Winlock — was to a higher classification squad. Adna’s Kaylin Todd leads from the point, but Karlee Von Moos and Brooklyn Loose have also been standouts.
The Riverhawks have had a good start to the year, but haven’t been challenged much in their wins. Toledo has a fierce defense, and gave 1A Tenino some trouble, and beat 2A Mark Morris early this year. Greenlee Clark and Vanesa Rodriguez lead the defensive-minded Riverhawks.
The Ducks were outmatched in a Moda Center contest against Adna in their league opener, but the young team that plays eighth graders has two wins over Castle Rock and one over Seton Catholic, and could be dangerous if they mesh at the right time.
The Timberwolves have wins over Stevenson, Three Rivers Christian, and Eatonville this season, but have tripped up against league opponents Onalaska and Toledo, and 1B Mossyrock this year.
The Bulldogs lone win came against league opponent Kalama, by double-digits.
The Chinooks have struggled so far this year, averaging 22.4 points per game with a single win over Fort Vancouver.
With a win over 2B Wahkiakum, and losses to just Adna and Ilwaco, the Vikings could be the favorites in the CVL.
The Comets have early league wins, and a near loss to 2B Toledo on their schedule, and should compete in a competitive CVL.
A surprising start to their season, the Eagles already have wins over Pe Ell and Mossyrock, but also have two losses to Naselle and Valley.
The Kodiaks have just one win to their credit, a double-digit win over Three Rivers, but have lost to just 1A Tenino and Naselle and Willapa Valley.
The Vikings have had awful injury luck, with Gunner Mulligan breaking his leg during football season and Zack Munoz suffering a leg injury in December after just returning to the court. If Keegan Kolb and Mossyrock can get its offense going however, look out.
The Trojans went on a two-week COVID-19 protocol hiatus, and are still getting in a rhythm, with losses to Firm Foundation and Willapa Valley in league. Wins over Ocosta and Winlock, however, are promising for the Trojans.
The Eagles have two wins over Concordia Christian Academy, and one over Mary M Knight, but otherwise have not been able to keep up with league competition in three lopsided defeats.
The Vikings look every bit the powerhouse that they were built up to be, with losses to just 2B teams in Adna and Toledo this year. Junior Payton Torrey leads the charge on offense, and Hailey Brooks is returning soon to join Torrey and fellow guard Caelyn Marshall to form a powerful trio.
The other Vikings from Menlo have started league with two straight wins, but have lost to Hoquiam, Napavine, and North Beach this season.
The Comets have looked strong, save for three double-digit losses this year to Mossyrock, Toledo, and Wahkiakum. The perennially good Naselle girls hoops squad will look to push for a state bid this season.
The Kodiaks have already played three league opponents, and have just one win against Three Rivers Christian. Columbia Adventist also has a win over Fort Vancouver.
The Eagles have just one victory this year, a 40-20 win over Mary M Knight to open the season. They have already lost to three league opponents.