Sports

Kent-Meridian building girls program | Prep preview

The Kent-Meridian girls basketball team looks to improve this season in the South Puget Sound League. - Ross Coyle/Kent Reporter
The Kent-Meridian girls basketball team looks to improve this season in the South Puget Sound League.
— image credit: Ross Coyle/Kent Reporter

The Kent-Meridian High girls basketball team has been busy both over the summer and in preseason practices to prepare themselves for an uphill battle against much more established teams.

The team may be young, says head coach Deforrest Phelps, but they are eager to prove themselves.

After taking over the program two years ago from previous coach Bret Drewery, he sees it as a chance to "put my stamp" on the team.

His biggest struggles have been getting the girls to "buy into" the program as more than just a pastime, and build them into a competitive team.

"We are building something here," he said.

Because the girls basketball coaches have been so intermittent, coaches haven't been able to set a stable base for the team to build on. Phelps is hoping to change that. "I'm in it for the long haul to really build this program," he said.

Phelps has prioritized quashing the defeatist attitude that tends to purvey teams at Kent-Meridian. He realizes that the change won't happen overnight, but he says he's ready to put in the time to make the team successful.

Three girls return to the team from last season; junior guard Sukhjit Dhaliwal, senior forward Le'Chante Raiwalui and sophomore point guard Anisha Narayan.

Phelps is particularly excited to see how newcomer Chanell Cooper performs against her opposition. Phelps believes that the defensive specialist has the talent to maintain control of the team's defensive game. "She worked extremely hard," says Phelps, "committed herself to the gym, to the weight room, to get to a place where she can just come in and dominate on a defensive end."

That defensive specialization is how Phelps plans to run his games.

"We have a lot of athletes, people coming in from different sports, so utilizing our skill athletically, I really think we can get the ball up and down the court," he said.

Phelps is optimistic about his girls' performances, but at the same time realistic in his expectations that the chances of a district title are slim. But that doesn't mean that anyone going up against the Royals should expect a pushover.

"They want to be respected," he sayid, "and they're putting in the work."

The girls took a hard, 48-point loss in their league opener against Tahoma, but recovered to beat Hazen by 33 points and defeated Auburn by 24. Kent-Meridian hosts Kentlake Friday night at 7:30.

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Royals at a glance

• 2012-2013 Season: (10-6, 12-8)

• Returning: Jenny Nguyen, 5-6, Sr.; Le'Chante Raiwalui, 5-9, Sr.; Sukhjit Dhaliwal, 5-7 Jr.; Arrie Brown, 5-10, Soph.; Diana Faamausili, 5-10, Soph.; Anisha Narayan, 4-10, Soph.

• New: Chanell Cooper, 5-8, Sr.; Faith Faamausili, 6-0, Sr.; Sheridan Brown, 5-5, Soph.; Ashleigh Robinson, 4-10, Soph.; Savannah Lackey, 6-0, Fr.

• Strengths: Dedication to the idea of improving their school's reputation and a thick skin developed from poor previous seasons.

• Weaknesses: Relatively inexperienced group with few senior players.

• In a nutshell: Commitment to the game and low expectations from previous years can give Kent-Merian and edge against complacent competition.

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