The traditionally-tough White River girls basketball team has launched another campaign and, once again, coach Chris Gibson sees reason for optimism.
The positive vibe surrounding the Hornet program begins with Kendall Bird and extends to a handful of returning varsity players, along with a crop of newcomers.
The 6-foot-2 Bird enters her senior season having already signed a scholarship offer to play for San Diego University. While Gibson has seen a healthy list of players advance to the collegiate ranks, Bird is the first he has sent to the Division I ranks.
With facing-the-basket skills and ball-handling abilities rare in a player her size, Bird garnered Most Valuable Player honors a season ago. She was a first-team, all-league selection following both her freshman and sophomore campaigns before claiming MVP honors as a junior.
Other key returnees include Georgia and Sofia Lavinder, a pair of 5-8 junior guards, and Lucy Rasmussen, a 5-10 senior forward. Georgia Lavinder was a second-team all-league pick a year ago.
Also on the varsity roster are senior Lily Tranquillo, junior Megan Cash and sophomores Chloe Narolski and Noelle Mills.
New to the program are the Norris sisters, who were part of the Sumner High varsity program last year. JaneAllyn, a senior, is a 5-6 guard, and LeeAudrey, a sophomore, is a 5-9 forward.
The 2016-17 group will look to continue a run of success rivaled by few in the state. During Gibson’s 18 years at White River, the Hornets have reached the Sweet 16 in all but two seasons.
Last year’s team finished with an overall record of 21-4. That included a 14-0 mark in league play, a league title and four district tournament victories. Reaching the 2A round of 16, the Hornets fell to Washougal in overtime and were eliminated.
White River boys
With an experienced lineup that has enjoyed a taste of postseason success, coach Rick Tripp leads his White River Hornets into another season of boys basketball.
His roster of 11 players includes six seniors, most boasting plenty of varsity experience. Tripp begins his eighth season at the Hornet helm.
Among the returnees with notable court time are seniors Alex Wallen, Ryan Larsen, Cameron Cawley and Ryan Lusk. The roster also includes seniors Xean Pennington and Dylan Sutherland; juniors Kaden Phillips, Brian Charest and Matt Funkhouser; and sophomores Joe Flanigan and Brandon Howard. Both Flanigan and Howard were regular contributors as freshman a season ago.
Following last season, Wallen was a second-team all-league selection and both Larsen and Cawley received honorable mention.
They were part of a team that placed third in the South Puget Sound League 2A with a 10-4 record. That squad also won a pair of district contests before being eliminated, eventually finishing with an overall mark of 15-9.