It was a scary year to be a girls basketball team facing W.F. West.
Take the ball down the court, and you were presented with a 2-3 zone, anchored by 6-foot, 3-inch center Julia Dalan all but eliminating anything in the low post. Miss a shot — or get swatted — and the Bearcats took the ball the other way, breaking into a halfcourt set that found Dalan down low, rising above any attempts to stop her, for a bucket in the block.
Dalan spent the year taking a crack at just about every single-game and single-season record in the W.F. West book, and finished well up the ranks in most of the career marks as well, after terrorizing the 2A EvCo for three months.
But at least, those teams think, the season is over, and the threat is pas–
What’s that? She was a sophomore?
Scratch that; it currently is a scary time to be a girls basketball team facing W.F. West. And that ain’t gonna change any time soon.
After one year as a starter, Dalan now holds the W.F. West single-season record for points (563), points per game (20.9), games in double figures (27), double-doubles (21), and blocks (172), and finished just two rebounds shy of the record with 335. Looking at the career rankings, the sophomore is already 14th all-time in points — just under 100 away from breaking into the top 10 — 11th in boards, and third in rejections.
And all of that for a year that began with unsure expectations — at least, from Dalan herself.
“It went a lot better than I expected it to go,” she said. “Coming from last year, it was a complete role change. I knew my role would be different. I think I always like to assume the worst, so I always assume that it won’t be as good as I hope it will be. Obviously, it turned out a lot better than that.”
Once the season started, things became a whole lot clearer. It started with a 20-point, 11-board effort in the opener in which Dalan outscored R.A. Long by herself. Then the Bearcats hit the road for the first time and blew out defending District 2/3 champs Port Angeles, behind 29 more from Dalan.
“The first couple of games, teams hadn’t seen it,” Dalan said. “But even at the beginning of the year, (coach Kyle) Karnofski was like, ‘The more that we play, teams are going to scout us and see you. So we’re going to have to find different ways to work around it, offensively and defensively.”
Just because teams could scout it, though, didn’t mean they could stop it. And as Dalan grew into her new role, the Bearcats grew into their new identity. With just one senior in the starting lineup, W.F. West got going basically from scratch with a rotation that included two juniors and three sophomores, all getting their first significant minutes.
The new-look Bearcats took home a 2A EvCo title and made it to Yakima, winning their Round-of-12 matchup over Renton before dropping two to finish a game short of the trophy round.
As far as floors go, it’s a pretty high one. And with four starters coming back with experience playing significant minutes on the biggest of stages — Dalan included — the Bearcats feel like in a year or two, 2023 could be looked back on as the jumping-off point to bigger and better things.
“We just have to expand from where we ended this year,” Dalan said. “I’m happy with where we ended this year, but as we grow, we also need to grow as a team and how we play.”
Karlee VonMoos, Adna
The Central 2B League Co-MVP, VonMoos averaged a double-double, scoring 15.3 points and hauling in 12.1 rebounds per game on 54% shooting from the field, with another 3.7 steals per game. VonMoos was a crucial piece of the Pirates’ sixth-place finish at the 2B state tournament in Spokane.
Morgan Hamilton, Napavine
Averaging 11.6 points, four rebounds, and 2.5 steals per game, the Central 2B League’s Co-MVP led a young Napavine team to a fifth-place finish at the 2B state tournament, a 2B District 4 title, and a Central 2B League title all in a single season.
Regan Brewer, Tumwater
One of the best perimeter defenders in the state, Brewer was also a proficient scorer, averaging 13.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.2 steals, and 4.3 assists per game. Brewer’s efforts earned her a first-team all 2A Evergreen Conference honor and helped Tumwater to a 2A District 4 title.
Angelica Askey, Rainier
The Rainier sophomore averaged 16.3 points, three rebounds, four assists, and 3.5 steals per game to help the Mountaineers to a third-place finish at the 2B District 4 tournament, and just a game shy of the trophy round of the 2B state tournament in Spokane. Askey earned a first-team Central 2B League honor for her strong season, as well.
Payton Torrey, Mossyrock
A three-time 1B Columbia Valley League MVP and Mossyrock standout, Torrey averaged an absurd 20.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 4.5 steals per game to help the Vikings to a second-place finish at the 1B state tournament in Spokane.
Charlie Carper, Pe Ell
The Trojans’ jack-of-all-trades, the lone senior on Pe Ell’s roster scored 18.8 points per game, grabbed 10.7 rebounds as a guard, dished out 4.5 assists and nearly averaged a triple-double with 9.2 steals per game. Carper earned a first-team 1B Columbia Valley League honor for her strong season, as well.
Caelyn Marshall, Mossyrock
Stepping up for the Vikings when they needed her most, Marshall scored just over 17 points per game during Mossyrock’s 1B state run to help guide the Vikings to a second-place finish at state. The senior averaged 12.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game over the course of the full season.