‘Tis the season for layups, free throws and three pointers.
The Bonney Lake Panthers have already taken to the court, with the girls aiming to repeat last year’s league success and grab a spot in postseason, and the boys looking to finally come together for a successful league run.
The Panther girls varsity team, coached by Daniel Lisk, consists of seniors Keyaira Witt, Julia Stephenson, Taryn Schelin, Payton Mitchell, Amanda Hone and Shaya McQueen, juniors Raelyn Kimmel, Olivia Grob, Malea Loukides and Monae Lee, and sophomores Patyon Schelin and Maisyn Jensen.
Lisk said Mitchell looks to be one of the strongest players this year. This is her fourth year as a varsity player, and was named 1st Team for SPSL 3A last year.
Right behind her is McQueen, who just started her second year as a starter and received the All SPSL honorable mention last year.
The team’s overall length and athleticism should make in impact on defense and on the boards, Lisk said, but the team is going to be working on their executing and finishing possessions.
Last year, the girls won 12 of their 19 league games, sending them to postseason before falling to Prairie and Sumner.
Their goal this year is to finish in the top half of the Pierce County League 3A, and compete for every inch of floor every minute of the game, Lisk said.
The girls fell their first two games against Rogers(32-65) and Auburn Mountainview (37-45). Their next game is today, Dec. 7, against Stadium at 7 p.m. in the Bonney Lake gym.
The boys team has had a run of poor seasons, but coach Sam Oliver is confident that the team will continue to improve with a stable program.
“The kids in this program (current and former) have really worked hard over these past two years and the culture and mentality of the program is miles from where it was because of that hard work,” Oliver said. “We are looking to continue to grow and improve the program this season and if we work hard, work together, and play well, I really feel that we could make a playoff push this season.”
Hitting the court this year are seniors Jake Martin, Crant Jeter, Trevor Barger and Zach Goff, juniors Alex Stevenson and Kaiden Hammond, sophomores AJ Andino, Tyson Lawes and Zane Foster and freshman Jordan Arpin.
Junior Ryan Arpin is out this season with an injury.
The boys have been steadily improving over the last few years, and hit several key milestones.
Before Oliver came on board, the Panthers endured two dismal seasons where they only took home one win in 39 games.
Part of the issue, Oliver said, was that the program went through three different head coaches those two years.
The year Oliver was hired, the boys improved 2-18, including the first win in school history against Lakes.
Last year, the team improved again to 3-17, which brought with it the first ever team win against Auburn.
The boys are already on their way to improve on last year’s league record, having taken home wins against Enumclaw (38-35) and Franklin Pierce (60-46). This is the third-ever win the Panthers have seen against Enumclaw in school history.
Their 2-0 league record is a first since 2011, which was also the year the team last made it to the playoffs.