Sports

Another year, another new start

By AARON MANAGHAN

Sports editor

New Klahowya girls hoops coach Don Farrell is hoping to deliver something to his players they haven’t yet seen in their high school careers — consistency.

Farrell, the sixth new Klahowya coach in seven seasons, replaces athletic director Todd Winters at the helm of the program.

And while he knows it won’t be easy to right Klahowya’s ship, it’s a mission he said he’s dedicated to.

“That’s what I’ve told to the athletic director, the parents and the players,” Farrell said. “I told them, ‘I’m not going anywhere. I’m in this for the team.’”

For Klahowya’s seniors, Farrell will be the third new coach during their high school careers. That’s a major reason the program he’s taking over has won just a single game in the last three seasons, going 0-16 last year. Each time a new coach has come in, the players have had to relearn everything but the fundamentals.

“That’s part of the reason,” Farrell said. “The girls have had to change offensive and defensive philosophies every season. I’m hoping to bring some consistency. Once they learn the defensive philosophy and offensive system, then we can start gelling.”

Klahowya’s struggles also have caused a lack of confidence for some of the players. That, too, is something Farrell wants to, and believes will, change.

He points to last season’s middle school team as evidence. The Klahowya middle school team finished last year with a winning record.

“They just haven’t experienced wins,” Farrell said. “Our ninth-graders have.”

This year, Klahowya returns three seniors in Jocylynn Meadows, Amber Burns and Grace Hatt. All three are co-captains. But Farrell said for the program to start reshaping its identity, it would take just as much effort from the captains off the court as the trio puts in on it.

“I’m learning with these three seniors, their leadership definitely is on the court, but where I really need them is off the court as well to show what Klahowya is about,” Farrell said. “I really appreciate what the seniors are doing for us.”

With Burns the tallest Eagle at 6 feet, Klahowya is not the largest team on the court. That means players like Meadows, at 5’6”, are having to play bigger than they are.

“Jocylynn’s been doing a great job down low,” Farrell said. “We’ve been having to play her against 6’1” players.”

Farrell said the captains aren’t the only ones stepping up to try and make a difference however.

“Jessi (Bulger has) stepped up,” Farrell said. “And Carly McElwee has done a pretty good job offensively as well.”

Jordan Dixon, a freshman, also has been impacting early for Klahowya, scoring 19 in the Eagles’ loss last week to Kingston.

“She’s a good player,” Farrell said. “Once she finds that left hand, she’s gonna really do something.”

Jessica Drake, Natasia Brooks, Katie Kirkpatrick and freshmen Jonica Durbin, Jolyn Bowling and Brooke Fernandez round out the Klahowya roster.

With only three seasons, Farrell is optimistic about being able to build the program for the future.

But as the new coach said, there’s a lot of season left before he can start to think about that.

“I’m really looking forward to next year’s team, but we’ve got a long way to go this season first,” he said.

Defense is going to be one of the team’s strengths coming out of the break, as Farrell called the 64-37 loss to Kingston the team’s top effort this season.

“We had good defense on the low post and denied the ball to the key area: the paint,” he said. “They worked really hard.”

A coach at Hawkins Middle School in Belfair for both boys and girls basketball, Farrell, from Illinois, ended up in Kitsap thanks to time in the Navy.

But now hoops is the reason that will keep him here.

“We’re trying to establish consistency,” Farrell said. “We’re starting to build a program that can be a winner in the future.”

The Eagles are off through the winter break, returning to the court on Friday, Jan. 4 in a home game against Belfair’s North Mason. That game is slated for a 7 p.m. start time.

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