Basketball: Mount Si girls could be among elite teams

Caitie Richards, Karly Thompson and Traci Nelson lead a veteran Mount Si girls’ hoops team, which will be among the contenders for the Kingco league title. A healthy number of key players return to the Wildcats this season. - Mark Lowry / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Caitie Richards, Karly Thompson and Traci Nelson lead a veteran Mount Si girls’ hoops team, which will be among the contenders for the Kingco league title. A healthy number of key players return to the Wildcats this season.
— image credit: Mark Lowry / Snoqualmie Valley Record

The Mount Si girls’ basketball program looks to be among the elite this season in the Kingco 2A/3A, as a large number of key players return from last season’s 10-12 team.

Returning as coach for his 10th season is Dirk Hansen, who will be assisted by Larry White and Ryan Hill.

“We’re pretty excited about this season, just like all the teams are,” Hansen said. “We’ve got a lot to work to do and we’re going to take it one game at a time.”

The Wildcats return an experienced group of players. The veterans are led by senior Caitie Richards, who signed a letter of intent on Friday, Nov. 14 to play basketball in college for northern California’s Humboldt State University.

Richards and fellow senior returner Jordyn Wilson are joined by a great cast of juniors, including Karly Thompson, Traci Nelson and Allysa McLauchlin.

Sophomores who look to make noise this season include Haley Chase and Hailey Eddings. A key freshman newcomer who will be active in the post this season is Sarah McDonald. She will not play the first couple of games, as she turned out late due to her appearance in the state volleyball tournament with the Wildcats volleyball team. Athletes must have 10 practices minimum in order to be eligible to play under WIAA rules.

Mount Si is expected to fare well in a realigned Kingco 2A/3A Conference. Top contenders include Mercer Island and Bellevue, but Hansen wants to take things one game at a time.

“Our goal is to come out and play the very, very best basketball that we can play, improve on our mistakes, improve on our weaknesses and have a workman-like attitude,” he said.

Richards also thinks it’s too soon to guess where the team stands.

“It’s a little early to try and figure that out, but I think we can go pretty far,” she said.

Nelson said one of the main goals for the team is keeping things simple.

“We’re focusing a lot more on just going back to the basics, and putting a good offense together,” she said.

“What we’ve got to be able to do this year is develop an identity and establish roles for the girls,” Hansen added: “‘What is my job, what am I good at, and how can I contribute to this team.’ I think, once we get those roles established, things might start clicking.”

Nelson thinks team unity will be helpful.

“We’ve all been playing together for a little while, so we have more team chemistry, which is a big part of practice and games,” she said.

Experience is also a key factor, and that’s a plus for Thompson.

“Definitely, it helps the nerves, because I know what to expect, the intensity,” she said. “You always have to step up your game a little more.”

The Wildcats have a solid nonleague slate this year, as they will play Valley rival Cedarcrest, and also go to a holiday tournament in northern Idaho. There, they will play three Idaho teams, Lake City (Coeur d’Alene), Post Falls and Lewiston, which were all Hansen’s rivals in high school; he is a graduate of Coeur d’Alene High, which is hosting the event.

“We’re going to need to really get it going for those three teams, because they have a certain cocky swagger to them that I particularly don’t care for,” Hansen said. “I sure hope the girls are going to be ready because, I guarantee you, I’m going to be ready.”

Hansen said the team truly appreciates the support of the Valley.

“We’re going to give our very best effort this year, as coaches and as players, to put a really good product out there on the floor and give this community something to be proud of,” he said.

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