Armed with a solid group of returning players, a gaggle of newcomers from throughout the West Coast and a new head coach, the Grays Harbor College women’s basketball program has reloaded for the 2012-13 season.
Starting this weekend, the Chokers (1-15 NWAACC West, 4-21 overall) will begin play in an NWAACC crossover tournament at Yakima, led by first-year head coach Christine Nelson.
Nelson, a former assistant coach at Concordia University in Portland, Ore., and current Hoquiam High School volleyball coach, has the task of bringing the old and new together at GHC.
“For me, it is about work ethic,” Nelson said. “We’re trying to install hard work and we want to compete in every game. For us, it is changing the mindset and these girls know that they can walk into any game and have a shot at winning. We’re going to be a more uptempo team; this group is all about dribble-drive, get to the basket and kick out.”
Returning to the blue-and-white this season are five sophomores — guards Erica Rydman (Montesano), Ashli Starr (Reynolds/Troutdale, Ore.), Kayzia Tanner (Ocosta), Halcyon Swisher (East Anchorage, Ak.) and forward Halley Patterson (Corbett/Troutdale, Ore.).
“They are a good group of returners and they’ve bought in,” Nelson said. “They’re working hard, have a great attitude and they understand what Grays Harbor is about. They’ve done a great job of helping people adjust to coming into the program and the area.”
Starr and Swisher will solidify the team as shooting guards, especially with their 3-point accuracy from last season, along with freshman Molly Carmody (Torrence, Calif.). At point guard, the Chokers will field two freshmen — Destinee Lake (Cheney) and Wenda Poleo (East Anchorage, Ak.) — who are more than capable of running the offense and handling the basketball, noted Nelson.
Poleo and freshman Mallory Maneman (Raymond) will both move from the point and shooting guard spots.
Guard/forward Bobbi Britt (Bartlett/Anchorage, Ak.) and sophomore Sha Marcia Scott (Evergreen/Vancouver) were cited by Nelson as “two of the most athletic players on the team.
“They are good slashers, good jumpers and are both strong,” Nelson said. “They’ll go to the rim.”
In the paint, Patterson, Scott and freshmen Bianca Russell (Blanchett Catholic/Salem, Ore.), Tasha Dotson (Montesano) and Sheleena Giles (Evergreen/Vancouver) will command the low posts.
“One of our strengths is our athleticism,” Nelson said. “We’re not slow. We have athletes, so that’s why we’re pressing and running the floor.”
In the NWAACC, Nelson noted that the program’s goal is to compete with each team in Western Division.
“I think, for us, there is a lot of talent here and there’s a lot of potential to do good things here,” Nelson said. “It all comes down to whether we can play together and play hard. I think we can compete with teams in our division. I think in our division, you have to play well to win that night. If we’re going tolose, we’re going to make the other teams work hard and beat us. I don’t want to be the doormat. I’m not OK with that.”