The Issaquah boys and girls basketball teams are back on the hardwood as the new season gets underway.
First-year head coach Doug Crandall said the Eagles are going to be a deep team this year with different players being able to step up when needed.
“We have really good players in a number of different spots. We’ve got great offensive rebounders, great shooters, we have point guards who understand the game and girls who go 100 miles per hour with a high motor. So we have all these pieces that fit together,” Crandall said.
Crandall said one of the key pieces for the Eagles this year will be 6-foot senior center Katie MacNary.
“She’s playing great basketball and she’s playing great defense,” Crandall said. “I’m excited because I didn’t completely know who she was coming in, but she’s done a great job.”
Along with MacNary, the close-knit Eagles will get leadership from senior Lauren Frueh (guard) and juniors Cam Gibson (guard) and Alivia Stephens (forward).
Crandall said that sophomores Mercedes Tinder (forward) and Shea Dillon (guard) will be able to contribute from the bench.
“For this team, both of them are going to be coming off the bench, but for a lot of teams, they would be starting,” Crandall said. “They’re going to have a starter’s mentality.”
Junior forward Erin Schobbe is a player that Crandall expects to see take a big step this season.
“(Erin) has worked her butt off all summer and fall,” Crandall said. “She was at all the off-season training and weight lifting.”
MacNary said the team is very close and supportive of each other.
“This team is really great and I love all these girls, so it’s going to be a really fun season,” MacNary said, adding that support is an important part of the team’s identity. “We really try to focus on being together, being a team and having energy all the time.”
Going into her senior season, MacNary is focused on becoming a better teammate and helping out the team.
“I hope to be a great teammate and to support everyone else,” MacNary said. “Maybe get a few more assists than last year and more rebounds.”
Last season, the Eagles lost to Newport 49-41 in the district tournament with a spot in the regional playoffs on the line. MacNary said they need to focus on keeping up their intensity all season, something that hurt them last year.
“I think we were getting a little tired in the end,” MacNary said. “We need to stay excited and stay together.”
Crandall said he has seen a budding belief amongst his players.
“I think they’re going to control the things they can control,” Crandall said. “I think if they do that, whether we take the next step or not, they’re going to be confident that they’re giving it everything they have.”
There is plenty of size on the Issaquah boys basketball team that will look to make a big impact on the court this season for the Eagles.
“We have really good size,” second-year head coach Brad Valentine said. “It’s one thing to have size, but it’s another thing to use it.”
The Eagles have 6-foot-9 senior Danny Howe, 6-foot-5 junior Charlie Dietiker, 6-foot-6 senior Adam Liske and 6-foot-4 sophomore Kyler Kaveny.
“It’s nice to have big guys that provide depth in the front court that are really skilled too,” Valentine said.” “They can play inside and outside. So I think that’s a strength.”
In his second year as the head coach, Valentine said there is more familiarity for the players.
“The guys know what we’re doing and they know their spots,” Valentine said. “Last year, it was teaching every single thing.”
Last season, the Eagles were one game away from the state tournament, losing 56-49 to Glacier Peak in the regional playoffs.
Some of the key returners from that team include Dietiker, Howe, Timmy Crandall and Saxon Cullimore.
“It’s always nice to return some guys from last year’s team that made a deep run,” Valentine said.
Valentine said he expects Howe to have a big season for the Eagles. Along with a bigger role, Valentine said Howe has become a more confident player.
“Last year, he was behind a really good big, in Asa Taylor, who went on to play college basketball,” Valentine said. “(Howe is) in a role now where he’s going to play a lot of minutes. People will be like, ‘Whoa, where was this kid last year?’”
One of the biggest additions for the Eagles will be senior Coben Kaveny. The 6-foot-1 guard is returning to the program after playing on the JV team in his sophomore season.
“He’s a two-guard for us that will handle the ball a little bit and play off the ball,” Valentine said. “He’s a really good defender.”
Valentine said one of the biggest changes this season will be the compete level from his team.
“This isn’t a (knock) on the team last year, but the way that we fly around this year is going to be quite different,” Valentine said. “I’m really excited about how hard we compete. That’s something that I think people will maybe notice that’s a little bit different from last year, just how much we fly around.”