Mountaineers End District Run Early, Prepare For the Future

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The lady Mountaineers won the first round of the Central 2B district basketball tournament against North Beach High School with a towering score of 75-13, but were ousted in the second round by Ilwaco High School 90-67.

Rainier finished the season with a record of 9-6, including district play.

“Overall, I think the season was a success,” said Coach Brandon Eygabroad. “It was all about learning and growing together, coming together as a team, building chemistry and improving. We did a lot of that along the way. There were some ups and downs as we went, but ultimately we got better as a team and are better for it.”

To review this last season and look forward to the next, the Nisqually Valley News was able to sit down with the team’s “core four” juniors — Selena Niemi, Kaeley Schultz, Faith Boesch and Isabella Holmes — who will be moving into the next season with their team intact.

“I think there was a lot that we learned from our last season,” Niemi said. “I think we grew a lot as a team, but we also, like, learned what did work and what didn’t work. But it kind of opened our eyes to what needs to be done this coming season.”

Schultz, the season’s high-point scorer, said the team saw a lot of challenges over the last couple months.

“I think we were able to overcome a lot of diversity and difficulties concerning COVID,” Schultz said. “With three out of the four of us juniors being put into a two-week quarantine, there were honestly a lot of bumps that we had to get over.”

One of those bumps was meshing the team’s two age groups together, she said.

“I mean we were playing with two eighth graders on the court, one starting and one coming right off the bench,” she said, adding she felt the Mountaineers made great inroads toward cohesion over the course of the season.

Boesch said COVID-19 had more of a hold on the season than just a forced quarantine.

“I think this last season, especially, was just an unconventional season, to say the least,” Boesch said. “I mean it was shortened a lot and, like, games were right back-to-back. We didn’t have a lot of time before we got going. We had one week of practice before we started playing.”

She agreed with Schultz that merging the age groups of the team was a challenge, especially since the juniors had never played with the younger girls before since there were no summer practices last year.

“It was fun to kind of get with them and learn how to play with them,” she said. “And we had to do that really quickly.”

Ultimately though, the Mountaineers are leaving this past season in the dust, with eyes looking ever forward to the next.

“One of our main goals of coming into this next season is emphasizing family as a team and being more family oriented,” Holmes said, adding the team is going to do that by implementing more team bonding experiences to include the younger girls.

Holmes said she is also going to take on more of a leadership role moving forward.

Niemi agreed with Holmes and said she is really excited for the coming season.

“We are going to focus on playing less as individuals on the court and more together, like sharing the ball and having more fun,” Niemi said. “I think, like, really embracing the idea of playing as a team, but also playing together and having fun is a big part of how we’re hoping to play in the upcoming season to reach our end goals.”

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