SILVERDALE — Chris Koebelin has a confidence that is not unusual for coaches no matter the sport. But he and his Klahowya Eagles certainly have some lofty goals this season.
The good news is the team already has as many wins (six) than they did all of last season. And in a league and district where teams are a little down this year, Koebelin believes the Eagles could get all the way to Yakima.
That would be quite a feat for a program for which last year’s 6-14 record was the best season in the past seven.
“When we’re in Yakima, everyone is going to ask, ‘who are you guys?’” Koebelin said following his team’s 56-21 victory over Vashon Island to push Klahowya’s record to 6-5 on the season.
Koebelin, the program’s first-year head coach, has long-standing ties to Kitsap — he is a former Kitsap Admirals Coach and worked for a while as a manager at the Silverdale Beach Hotel — but spent the past three years working in the Vashon Island School District while living in Port Orchard. This past year, Koebelin took a job at Ridgetop Middle School, moved to Seabeck and applied for the coaching position.
“I love being back in Silverdale,” Koebelin said.
And along for the ride is his daughter Ella, a sophomore who played her freshman year at Vashon Island. Ella has been a major force for the Eagles this season, averaging 19 points, 4.6 assists and five rebounds per game.
It’s not unusual for parents to coach their kids at the high school level and it will certainly be nothing new for the Koebelins. Chris has coached Ella at the youth level for a number of years.
“We have a good connection, so it’s pretty easy,” Ella said.
Of course, it takes more than one person to a program’s trajectory and Klahowya has a number of solid players this season. Junior forward Katie Coooper is a returning all-league player and senior Maile Lueck brings tons of intangibles to the team, including leadership, grit and scoring ability. Sarah Greene is expected to return to the varsity team as well, and she brings some size and defense to the equation.
“I want to build a culture … I want to turn this into a perennial top program,” Koebelin said.
On Tuesday night, the Eagles took care of business against Vashon Island, opening up an insurmountable 24-3 lead after one quarter. Ella Koebelin, playing against her former teammates, scoring a game-high 20 points and Cooper added 15. Freshman Lindsay Templeton added 10 points and was all over the court, causing havoc and forcing turnovers.
“They definitely knew me,” said the younger Koebelin. “They were trying to keep me off the ball as much as possible.”
The Eagles are also off to a good start in league play. They triumphed over Chimacum, 62-14, on Dec. 13 and beat Port Townsend 52-38 four days later. The team will play their Olympic League 1A foes twice more toward the end of the season with an eye on capturing a league title and a berth in the district playoffs.
Klahowya 56, Vashon Island 21
VI 3 8 3 7 — 21
KL 24 8 14 10 — 56
Vashon Island (21) — Stromberg 9, Mediavilla 4, Kuyper 3, Wheeler 3, Erickson 2.