Sports

OC bench no longer a lonely hearts' club

What a difference a year makes.

Rick Peters really didn’t know what he was getting into last year when he accepted the women’s basketball coaching job at Olympic College.

“I walked in with huge expectations,” Peters said. “I think I over thought what we could accomplish in the short amount of time I was there. We’ve extended our goals out like three years now. Our goal is to have this program very competitive by the end of next year. I’m thinking we’ll be very competitive by the end of this year.”

That would be a major accomplishment, considering the Rangers are coming off a 2-24 season in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges.

When Peters, a 36-year-old veteran of military and recreation coaching, stepped in to become the fourth women’s coach in four years at the Bremerton junior college a year ago, he didn’t realize how bare the cupboard was. The recruiting season had already passed him by.

When Peters conducted his first practice, he had six players, and two were academically ineligible.

“So we were scrambling for players,” Peters said. “We grabbed two girls who hadn’t played since junior high.”

There was an early-season loss at Grays Harbor where Olympic finished with three players on the court after four Rangers had fouled out. The Rangers ended the season with just five players.

Those lonely days on the bench, without any subs, Peters hopes, are gone.

“Now we’ve got experience, we’ve got depth and we’ve got some maturity,” he said.

Sophomores Melissa Edwards and Char Agee, who hung in there during the trying 2000-01 season, are the only returners among the 10 players on OC’s roster.

Agee also plays volleyball and hasn’t been able to concentrate on basketball, but she likes what she’s observed.

“Just the commitment is so much more,” Agee said, “and you can tell the talent level is a lot higher. Last year a lot of the players were not sure what they wanted. This year, they know what they want.”

Peters expects sophomore Sheneta Lewis, who played a year of junior college basketball in Oklahoma, to have the most immediate impact on the program.

“She adds experience and brings a different style of play than what we’re used to seeing,” Peters said. “She’s physical. She’s got great ball moves and she can distribute the ball without looking where she’s going ... it’s beyond fundamentals; Sheneta’s got kind of a natural game to her.”

The fresh faces include two 1999 Central Kitsap graduates — forward Leana Abille and guard Tishala Rought.

“They heard about the environment, about the program we’re trying to build and just showed up,” said Peters.

Peters expects ballhandling and distributing to be a strength with Lewis, Agee and Edwards sharing the load.

The inside work will be handled by rugged 5-11 Melody Green from Gold Beach, Ore., and 6-1 Beth Grams, who’s more of a finesse-type player.

Other freshmen include guards Dana Diehl from Aniak, Alaska and former Olympic High players Bonita Wilcox and Nikki Nave.

“Going off last year, we’re already in a better situation,” Peters said. “Our goal is to get this program in a positive situation where girls want to come here and play. If we can bring last years effort with the girls we have this year, we’re going to be much better because the girls never quit last year.

“They were just die-hards. Char (Agee) and Melissa (Edwards) were two who worked hard at every practice, at every game and stayed positive the whole year. And it was difficult to stay positive last season.”

OC WOMEN AT A GLANCE

Coach — Rick Peters (2nd year).

Last year — 2-24 (0-16 NWAACC Northern Division).

Returners — Melissa Edwards, 5-7, So., South Kitsap; Shar Agee, 5-3, So., Olympic.

Newcomers — Dana Diehl, 5-2, Fr., Aniak, Alaska; Bonita Wilcox, 5-4, Fr., Olympic; Nikki Nave, 5-5, Fr., Olympic; Tishala Rought, 5-5, Fr., Central Kitsap; Leana Abille, 5-10, Fr., Central Kitsap; Shaneta Lewis, 5-8, So., Star Spencer, Okla.; Melody Green, 5-11, Fr., Gold Beach, Ore.; Beth Grams, 6-1, Fr., King’s West.

2001-02 SCHEDULE

Nov. 17 — Grays Harbor, 7 p.m. 23-25 — at Shoreline Tournament.

Dec. 5 — at South Puget Sound, 6 p.m. 14-16 — Olympic Crossover Tournament. 22 — at Lower Columbia, 5 p.m. 28 — Wenatchee Valley, 6 p.m. 29 — Pierce, 5:30 p.m.

Jan. 2 — Shoreline, 7:30 p.m. 5 — at Peninsula, 7:30 p.m. 9 — at Bellevue, 7:30 p.m. 16 — Skagit Valley, 7:30 p.m. 19 — Seattle, 7:30 p.m. 23 — at Whatcom, 7:30 p.m. 26 — at Everett, 7:30 p.m. 30 — Edmonds, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 2 — at Shoreline, 7:30 p.m. 6 — Peninsula, 7:30 p.m. 9 — Bellevue, 7:30 p.m. 16 — at Skagit Valley, 7:30 p.m.; 20 — at Seattle, 7:30 p.m.; 23 — Whatcom, 7:30 p.m.; 27 — Everett, 7:30 p.m.

March 2 — at Edmonds, 7:30 p.m. March 8-11 — NWAACC Tournament at Richland.

— Home games at Bremer

Student Center.

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