Winter sports preview: Young Lady Warriors have some big basketball shoes to fill

Junior Seyi Olajoyegbe (00) -- with newcomer LaNisha Gomez (25) -- returns to the Warriors this season. (Photos by Char Blankenship)
Sophomore Sidney Eck is expected to dominate play inside.

Edmonds-Woodway High School’s girls basketball coach Duane Hodges is hoping his young squad will be able to fill the shoes of the seniors he lost to graduation in June.

The Warriors, who finished the 2010-11 campaign 24-6 and made their second straight appearance at the state 4A basketball tournament, lost a lot of height with the departure of 6-1 center Sydney Donaldson and 6-0 forward Ashley Albertson.

“We are so young,” said Hodges. “We are keeping things pretty simple, but the younger ones are picking stuff up as well.”

One would be skeptical about Hodges’ ability to replace the five graduating seniors from 2010, but the Warrior head coach is convinced his young players will rise to the occasion.

“They will have their ups and downs but they are confident without any cockiness,” he said of the youngsters on this year’s roster. “We all know the season is a marathon and not a sprint, but I know our courage will be tested early.” In fact, that test will come in a couple of challenging preseason match-ups that begin with Thursday’s home contest vs. perennial basketball powerhouse Auburn-Riverside. (That game will be broadcast live on Warrior Radio, with tip-off at 7:15 p.m. in the EWHS gym.) And on Dec. 29, the Warriors will host another tough team, Lewis & Clark High School, at 7 p.m., also on Warrior Radio.

Returning from the 2010 campaign with experience and the ability to come through in the clutch is senior guard Madeline Kasper, who proved last year she can hit the three ball in key situations for the Warriors.

“She’s been surrounded by very good older players for three years and has played her role well,” Hodges said of Kasper. “Her ability to turn a game with her defense is what I have noticed since being at E-W.”

Since Kasper is no longer surrounded by the likes of Donaldson, Albertson or Angela Woods, Hodges says she will need to expand her role for the Warriors this season. Luckily for her, Kasper’s head coach thinks sophomore center Sidney Eck and junior center Seyi Olajoyegbe have the potential to offer significant support.

“Eck is physically very strong and should be one of the dominant inside players in our league,” Hodges added. “The wild card for us is Seyi. She can be a fine shot blocker when she is careful not to foul.”

Warrior fans anxious to see if the young 2011 squad can repeat the success Hodges is accustomed with (the third-year coach has taken his team to state twice already). The season begins with a non-league match-up Tuesday night vs. Marysville-Getchell, with tip-off at 7:15 p.m.

— Story written by Ian Waldron, EWHS class of 2006.

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