It may seem like a statement of how comfortable it is in its own undersized skin, but when Wapato’s girls basketball team takes the floor for the opening tip and puts 5-foot Myleah Nason in the centercourt circle there’s actually a plan.
“If we concede the tip like that we’re hoping the ball gets poked into the backcourt so we can trap it,” explained Wapato coach Joe Blodgett. “If we force that turnover it gets our mentality where we need it and the tempo where we want it.”
The Wolves didn’t quite pull off the quick-strike, tone-setter last Friday in their showdown with Ellensburg, but they caused plenty of early trouble for the Bulldogs and earned a 41-33 victory that finished an unbeaten run through the first half of CWAC play.
Without a starter over 5-7, Wapato has taken care of business with defensive pace and intensity, building a 10-0 league mark and No. 4 state ranking. Against the three teams directly under them in the CWAC standings — Ellensburg, Grandview and West Valley — the Wolves have allowed an average of just 34 points a game.
“We don’t ever let the girls get complacent about their defensive tempo,” Blodgett said. “Sometimes we stop practice and remind them, ‘Look, we need to use the advantages we have.’ Pressuring teams and using our quickness — that’s what we do.”
Even with four senior starters in Briana Cordova, Darian Gasseling, Justine Sosa and Nason, much of the early season was spent sorting out redefined roles after the departure of four-year scoring leader and inspirational spark Sammi Jo Blodgett. The process, the coach said, took longer than a summer together.
“Early on there were new roles for everybody and it took a while,” noted Joe Blodgett. “It was more than just her scoring, it was her work ethic, too. Sometime around the third week of practice we talked about missing something and that was it, the work ethic. Our seniors really took that to heart and pulled us up to another level.”
In the first three games, including a season-opening loss to Zillah, Wapato yielded an average of 55.7 points. In the nine games since, that number has plunged to 34.7.
More SunDome games
The Yakima Valley SunDome will set up its basketball courts for a third time this season on Saturday, this time for Rivalry Saturday — a group of six SCAC West and two Central Washington 2B South games.
On the boys court the lineup is Cle Elum vs. La Salle (3 p.m.), Goldendale vs. Highland (4:30), Riverside Christian vs. White Swan (6:30) and Mabton vs. Granger (8).
The girls court will shuffle the order with Goldendale vs. Highland (3 p.m.), Cle Elum vs. La Salle (4:30), Mabton vs. Granger (6:30) and Riverside Christian vs. White Swan (8).
Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors.
Fleming into Hall
Ron Fleming of Granger will be among four inductees into the Washington State Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame today in Everett. The induction ceremony will start at 6:45 p.m. and is part of the annual coaches convention.
Fleming coached cross country and track and field at Granger for 30 years through 2002 and directed a track club and all-comer meets for several years involving kids of all ages. He was a groundbreaker in girls cross country, hosting unofficial state meets in Granger in 1973 and 1974 before the WIAA took over.
Fleming, who at age 65 is still going strong as an avid marathoner and runner, continues to serve his community as a member of the Granger School Board. He will be inducted today along with Jim Mclachlan (East Valley-Spokane), Gwen Roberton (Issaquah) and Sam Ring (Wilson).
Almaguer’s big day
Granger’s victory last Saturday in the 15-team Jack Reynolds wrestling tournament in Mercer Island was a big deal for a 1A school, especially going up against Yelm, the state’s sixth-ranked team in 4A.
The Spartans matched Yelm with 12 placers and none worked harder than 120-pound runner-up Victor Almaguer, who faced two big-school state champions back-to-back. The undaunted sophomore blanked Yelm’s Darren Harris (reigning 3A state champ at 106) in the semifinals 5-0, earning a shot at Edmonds-Woodway’s Noah Cuzzetto, who won last year’s 4A state title at 106. Each battled for a takedown and reversal and Cuzzetto — the state’s overall No.1-ranked wrestler at 120 — used an escape to pull out a 5-4 win.
Another impressive bracket was 113 where Granger’s Ricky Almaguer, Jose Cienfuegos and Reyes Arceo placed 1-2-3.
In this week’s updated team rankings, Granger remains No. 1 in 1A followed by Chelan, Castle Rock, Royal and Zillah.
Hounds school record
One thing I missed in last week’s feature on Grandview’s Payton Parrish is that she recently overtook Kinzi Poteet’s school record for career scoring.
With 31 and 28 in last week’s CWAC games, Parrish is up to 1,280 points for her four-year career. Poteet, a 2009 grad now at Boise State, finished with 1,207 and Megan Buchmann topped the milestone with 1,019 in 1997.
The Greyhounds will soon have a fourth 1,000-point scorer and possibly a challenger to whatever number Parrish finishes with. Junior point guard Marissa Caballero, is already at 831.
From the note file
• Three local sites will be included in the regional round of the state basketball tournaments — Central Washington University (2A), West Valley High School (1A) and Sunnyside High School (2B).
• Three-sport standout Kody Ergeson has moved up to third in career wins for Selah’s wrestling program. Ergeson, who won the 145-pound bracket at Saturday’s Westberg tourney in Ellensburg, has 113 wins in four seasons. Program leaders are Zach Morgan (137) and Carlos Torres (122).
• Granger senior Lyndsay Oswalt was named WIAA athlete of the week for 1A girls after averaging 20.3 points and 13 rebounds in three SCAC West wins over La Salle, Highland, and Zillah.
• Lakewood’s Justin Peterson, a versatile quarterback who also scored 24 touchdowns, has made a verbal commitment to Central Washington. National letter of intent day is Feb. 6.
• Scott Spruill’s prep blog is at www. yakimaherald.com/blogs/prepsblog/ He can be reached at 509-759-7852 or firstname.lastname@example.org