SILVERDALE — On a recent Tuesday night at Klahowya Secondary School, the Chief Kitsap Academy boys basketball team got a glimpse into its past, while the girls team got to peek at their future.
Building a program from scratch is a difficult proposition for any school — the boys, now in their third season, arose from humble beginnings with inexperienced players to an appearance in the 1B playoffs last season. And now the girls, in their second season, are experiencing the same growing pains.
“Right now, it’s about getting some bodies in, getting kids to show up and start getting themselves ready for another level of hoops,” girls head coach Matthew Ives said. “A lot of our girls are really young.”
That could be considered a rather large understatement with two freshmen, three sophomores and one eighth-grader making up six of the seven players that were in uniform against Klahowya on Dec. 19.
The results were unsurprising, given they were playing a 1A school and Ives knows his team is going to take some lumps this season. But the girls are fortunate to have the benefit of a full 19-game schedule against other Tribal and small schools such as Clallam Bay, Crescent and Neah Bay, which will provide numerous opportunities for the team to learn and grow.
In the 61-11 loss to the Eagles, sophomore Brandy Boure scored five points for Chief Kitsap while Paisha Carlon, the team’s only upperclass player, scored four and freshman Kai Usman scored two.
“It’s a matter of keeping our morale high,” said Ives. “We’re so young, as a coach I’m looking to instill something for next year and the year after as far as having the right attitude.”
That’s something of which boys head coach George Hill III often speaks. One of the things that makes it easier for him to build on his program’s momentum is having players that understand it’s OK to ask questions and make mistakes because it allows them to learn the ins and outs of competing at a higher level.
“They’re all coachable, they want to learn, they want to get better every day,” Hill said. “So the main thing we tell them is ‘we’re not going to be upset with you if you don’t know something.’”
“And I’m hoping we can get there,” said Ives. “I see the boys, we want to have the work ethic the boys have right now. That’s what we want to strive towards.”
When the boys took the floor in the second game of that night’s double-header, the girls saw what their future could look like.
With an up-tempo style of play and an aggressive press, the Bears put on plenty of pressure early. Led by Jayden Sigo and Wil Thomas, who each finished the game with eight points, and Austin Wion, who scored seven, Chief Kitsap stayed close to Klahowya, trailing by just nine points at halftime.
The Eagles adjusted their offense in the second half and subsequently found more success in getting their cutters to the basket, but the Bears kept their energy levels high and contested every shot they could. With their league schedule just around the corner, even a 69-36 loss helps better prepare them for the grind of January and February.
“That’s the inexperience, it comes out, it’s alright,” Hill said. “With everything, you get a learning experience.”
—Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.