Eagles better late than never

"The third week in November was a magical time for Klahowya Secondary School, what with the girls soccer team traveling all over the Puget Sound region on its way to the state Class 2A championship.Back at school, though, Sara Rosin was invoking some magic of her own. The third-year girls basketball coach was working desperately just to conjure up enough players for a varsity team.While the Eagle booters were cleaning up against the state’s best 2A competition, Rosin was scouring the halls to find enough bodies to fill her varsity uniforms.She made it, compiling a combination of last year’s returning nucleus — which just missed advancing to to the district tournament — some late-arriving soccer players and a few other athletes she cajoled into turning out. When the Eagles debuted last Friday (Dec. 3) against King’s West at Chico, Rosin had 11 players on her roster.Turning those 11 players, will all their diverse abilities and backgrounds, into a team might take a good chunk of the season.“The first turnout, I had five girls,” says Rosin. At that time, the soccer team still was going strong, and Rosin still hadn’t had a chance to talk several other girls into turning out.“They’re all athletes,” Rosin says of the resulting pastiche, “but I’ve got a few who have never played basketball before. Never.”Not the kind of thing you want to have to say about your varsity team. But Rosin — who had to cancel Klahowya’s junior varsity season as soon as she saw the dearth of numbers wasn’t going to significantly improve — is glad to have even the beginners.The lack of numbers is one of the major obstacles the Eagles will face this year as they try to improve on last season’s three-win total, when they came within one game of a district playoff berth.The other stumbling block is the late start to Klahowya’s season. It’s hard to do much in turnouts with five bodies. Not until the trio of tardy soccer players arrived — a group which included last year’s scoring and rebounding leader, 6-foot-2 Rachael Rolle — did things improve.“We’re still way behind, though,” says Rosin, whose team was winless in its inaugural season in 1997-98. “We still haven’t put in any of the system stuff, and here we are playing games already. We’re very basic right now.”On paper, the Eagles have an intriguing look about them. Rolle and 5-1 guard Maranda Hall, both seniors, gave them a solid inside-outside punch last year, and 5-11 junior forward Jayme Baxter emerged as another rebounding presence who could score and take the pressure off Rolle.If the opener against King’s West is any indication, senior Kyla Zapp looks ready to add another ingredient to the mix.“She’s working to be a good player,” Rosin says of the 5-10 Zapp. “She had a great volleyball season, and I think she learned a lot.”Another volleyball player, Darcy Hutchins, was a late basketball convert this fall, but her athletic, 6-1 frame should add depth to the frontcourt.“She wasn’t going to play, but we talked her into it,” Rosin says of Hutchins, who was on the team as a sophomore. “She’s going to add a lot, once she gets back into the swing of things.”All that height nonwithstanding, the ignition key for the Eagles is in the hands of their smallest player, Hall. She is charged with the responsibility of bringing the ball upcourt, distributing to Rolle and the others, and providing whatever outside shooting threat the team has. It takes every ounce of oomph she has to put up a 3-point shot, but she manages to coax them in.“She’s going to have to pick up all the pressure in the backcourt,” Rosin says of Hall, who is liable to see a lot of double-teams this season. “But she finds a way to beat it. She’s just a great player.”If Hall is going to get any help in the backcourt, it most likely will come from senior Mary Davenport when she gets back up to speed following a back injury. Juniors Dana Mottet — a swimmer and diver in the fall — and Aimee Gray — a midfielder on the state-title soccer team — also are available, though neither has played basketball before this year, according to Rosin.“They’re good athletes who have to learn the game,” the coach says."

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