Mountaineers girls hoopers primed to take next step after deep postseason run last year

Coach says team might be his most-talented yet


As the Rainier High School girls basketball team prepares to open its 2023-24 season, the Mountaineers are hungry to prove that their 21-7 record and state tournament run last year weren’t a fluke.

The Mountaineers were a young team a season ago, but sixth-year head coach Brandon Eygabroad believes his team, which returns everyone, will only continue to improve and is close to being on the same tier as the top teams in the state.

“I’ve coached quite a few talented teams, and this team might be my most talented team I’ve coached,” he said. “A lot of these girls have been playing together since fourth or fifth grade. They have all the tools. They’re as hungry as they’ve ever been.”

Rainier, which earned the seventh seed in the 2B state tournament in Spokane last spring, fell one win shy of placing in the tournament. Despite falling short of their goal, the Mountaineers are confident that a trophy is within reach next spring.

“We’re all on the same page about things. We have similar goals, and we all want the best for each other,” junior Bryn Beckman said. “After the tournament, we learned what it means to win and the sacrifices that we need to make because we obviously didn’t make it as far as we wanted to.”

The Mountaineers are led by captains Beckman, senior Haleigh Hanson, junior Brooklynn Swenson and first-team Central 2B League honoree Angelica Askey. In the first weeks of practice, Eygabroad has pushed his leaders to be more vocal.

“He’s definitely gotten harder on us this offseason, but it’s definitely helped us, and it’s improving us as a team,” Swenson said of her coach. “He puts more pressure on us because he wants us to succeed.”

Hanson added that the Mountaineers have grown closer as a team this offseason, and they are holding each other accountable as they enter a season with high expectations.

“We’re doing more together as a team. Last year, we would have separated into our own groups or run individually, but now we’re running together, we’re conditioning together, and taking accountability,” she said.

Eygabroad said the team’s goals are to return to the state tournament and secure a trophy on the big stage, as well.

“That’s the mindset that we’re practicing with and the intensity we’re bringing every single day,” he said.

“We’ve been reminding them that in order to compete at the highest level with the top teams in the state, they’re going to have to bring it every single day. I think that we’re really close to being on that level. They have all the tools, but it comes down to whether they come together.”

The Mountaineers open the season at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 27 with a home game against