King's West girls headed back to Spokane

"Kasey Treger has experienced the state Class B girls basketball tournament from the viewpoint of a benchwarmer and a starter.At the start of this, her senior year as a King's West Warrior, she didn't think she'd get the chance to experience it as a team leader.It was a hope, Treger said of the team's chances at a fourth state tourney berth in five years, the third of her four-year career. But, seriously, I didn't think we could get back.I knew from Day One it was possible, she added, but I never let myself be sure until we beat Shoreline Christian.That victory, in a Tri-District loser-out game last Friday, clinched the Warriors' almost miraculous return to the state Final 16 in the Spokane Arena, where they open at 3:30 p.m. today against Lyle, an upstart from the Yakima Valley League.They played Sunnyside Christian, a team that goes to state every year, and beat them in their district championship game, Warriors coach Tom Oliver said of the 20-2 Cougars. So they must be pretty good.Treger could be excused for her wait-and-see attitude about this year's Warriors (19-5). She was the lone returning starter from the 1998-99 King's West team that went 1-2 at state to cap a 21-5 season. She was the defensive specialist among that starting quintet, the rest of which took more than 61 points a game in firepower with it when it graduated.This year, she's the team's only senior - the only player on the roster who played many varsity minutes, let alone toiled under the Spokane Arena lights.It's a little added pressure, she said of her leadership role, but I'm glad to have the chance. I just try to be as encouraging to everyone as I can. I try to calm people down if they're nervous, help them stay in a good, positive attitude.She predicted there would be nerves about the time the Warriors hit the court for today's state opener.When we played the (Sea-Tac League) championship game against Bush, we were really nervous, and we played one of our best games. So maybe if we're nervous, that'll be a good sign.Lately, Oliver's clubs have suffered more frayed nerves just getting to its games than playing in them.A missed ferry and Interstate-5 traffic jam almost forced them to forfeit one Tri-District game against Grace Academy. A week later, the Warriors had to ride their rooters' bus - crammed in amid the rooters - to the Shoreline Christian game after the team bus conked out waiting for another ferry.Most of the nerves were about whether or not we were even going to get there, Treger grinned of the team's district misadventures.But the Warriors have been getting places all season long that they weren't supposed to get, surprising their senior captain, their fans and even Oliver, who's made the state girls tourney a King's West tradition.They've reinvented themselves from an offensive powerhouse to a team of defensive dervishes, pressing and scrapping and chasing opponents to distraction.Treger stressed that her barometer of success at state this year won't be measured by wins and losses, but by how well the young Warriors play.I always have high expectations, she said, and I expect us to play well. If we could win a couple of games, which would mean we were playing Saturday (the tourney's trophy day), that would be great."

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