Successful high school basketball programs are built around talented players, with many landing opportunities to take their skills beyond the prep level.
That’s clearly the case at White River High School, where Hall of Fame coach Chris Gibson has built a hoop enterprise that has gone four consecutive seasons without a league loss.
Five former Hornets were on collegiate basketball rosters during the recently-completed season. Kendall Bird is Gibson’s lone Division I recruit, signed by the University of San Diego; also playing at the four-year level are sisters Georgia and Sofia Lavinder, who stayed close at the University of Puget Sound; and competing in two-year programs are Megan Cash and Chloe Narolski, both at Centralia College.
Arguably the most accomplished player in school history, Kendall Bird has experienced tough times during her past two seasons in Southern California.
After playing in 19 Toreros games as a true freshman, the 6-foot-2 Bird was sidelined by injury after just two games of her sophomore (2018-19) campaign. Recovering from knee surgery, she suffered a second knee injury last fall and missed the entire 2019-20 season.
White River’s all-time leading scorer was off to a good sophomore season before the injury setback. She played in the Toreros’ first two games, starting one, and averaged 9.5 points per outing.
Her freshman season was highlighted by an eight-point performance against Pepperdine University.
Bird departed White River in 2017 after averaging 23 points and 12 rebounds a night during her senior season. She was a four-year starter for Gibson, was a four-time all-league pick, twice garnered league MVP honors and was twice honored as an all-state selection. She capped her senior season by being named the Class 2A Player of the Year by both the Associated Press and the Washington State Girls Basketball Coaches Association.
GEORGIA LAVINDER, SOFIA LAVINDER
Both are listed at 5-foot-8, both earned honors during their time at White River and both have finished their sophomore seasons on the UPS campus in Tacoma.
Georgia played in 25 Logger games during the winter season and was put into the starting lineup on three occasions. Averaging 10 minutes per contest, she finished the season with 63 points, nine assists and five blocked shots. Most of her scoring came from long range as she connected on 17 shots from 3-point range. She scored a season-high nine points during an early-season victory over Northwest Christian.
Sofia appeared in five games for the Loggers during the recently-completed season. She contributed three assists, two points and a defensive rebound.
The sisters are two-sport athletes at UPS, also members of the Loggers’ golf team.
MEGAN CASH, CHLOE NAROLSKI
This pair of former White River teammates traveled down Interstate 5 and landed in Centralia. Cash just finished her second year in a Trailblazers uniform and Narolski completed her freshman campaign.
The duo helped the Centralia squad to an impressive 21-7 overall record; more important, however, was the perfect 14-0 mark in Northwest Athletic Conference play. The only setback to the league season was the cancellation of the championship tournament, brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
From her guard position, Cash played in all 28 Blazer games and was in the starting lineup 27 times. She averaged 9.2 points per outing and her 65 assists in conference play placed her No. 8 among all NWAC players. She added better than seven rebounds per NWAC contest and, in all games, pulled down 173 rebounds.
In conference play, Cash was among the most efficient shooters. She was good on 60 of 108 attempts, good for No. 7 overall at 55.6 percent.
At the end of the year, Cash was a second-team Western Region selection when the NWAC handed out postseason honors.
Narolski, just a year removed from her Hornet days, appeared in all 28 Blazer games, starting once.
For the season, she averaged 20 minutes per game, scored 124 points (4.4 per contest), and was credited with 73 rebounds, 44 assists, 28 steals and six blocked shots.