Experienced sophomores lead Big Bend into 2017-18 season

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Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Big Bend forward Hailey Garrity led the Vikings in points and rebounds as a freshman.

MOSES LAKE — Roster turnover is something two-year community colleges must deal with year in and year out.

Players either run out of eligibility or transfer to four-year universities. That’s not much of an issue this season for Big Bend women’s basketball.

The Vikings return five sophomores and all logged significant minutes last season as freshmen.

“You look around, the teams that had a lot of success last year in our region they were all heavy sophomore-laden teams,” head coach Preston Wilks said. “In our region it usually comes down to how many sophomores you have coming back determines how much success you’ve had and for me that’s been really true, too.”

The aforementioned sophomores include Sunnie Martinez, Callie Gronning, Emily Allan, Hailey Garrity and Kelsey Foster. Martinez, a point guard, led Big Bend in minutes last year followed by Gronning (second-most), Allan (third), Garrity (fourth) and Foster (seventh).

Big Bend’s five sophomores is tied for third-most in the NWAC East with Blue Mountain and Walla Walla. North Idaho (six) and Treasure Valley (eight) are the only teams with more.

“I think that we are at a big advantage with the amount of sophomores that have came back because we already know the ropes of our coach and how he likes to run things and the setting that he likes to have our practices and the games,” Garrity said. “Our sophomores are actually really hard workers and so we feel lucky to have girls that are sophomores able to return and be able to help the freshmen out so that we can be as successful as possible.”

Garrity led Big Bend in scoring and rebounding last season, averaging 11.31 points and eight rebounds per game. Garrity’s rebounding clip was good for fourth in the East. One aspect of her game the all-around player from Beaverton, Ore. didn’t use much as a freshman was outside shooting. Garrity took one three-pointer her entire freshman season. It was a miss.

That should change this season.

“It’s (my outside shot) coming along fine,” Garrity said. “I had my third knee surgery over the summer so I wasn’t practicing as much as I would have liked to, but now that I’m back to practicing and playing I’m working on it a lot and I think that it’s improving my game a lot because people are going to have to respect me more on the outside of the key so I think it’s helpful to our team that I’m able to shoot threes now.”

Martinez was right behind Garrity, scoring 11.25 points while dishing 3.19 assists per game. Martinez’s assist numbers put her eighth in the East.

A coach is always grateful to have his point guard back.

“Sunnie is very cerebral. She’s like a coach on the floor and it makes my job a lot easier,” Wilks said. “She knows what I want to do. She’s really a heady ballplayer. She just is thinking a couple plays ahead and when she does things that’s when you see it — she was doing this last time so that she could set up this this time.

“She’s just a really smart, heady point guard and it makes my job a lot easier.”

Brynn Drummond, Leah Dougherty, Miranda Johnson, Michelle VanSlyke, Maggie Strom, Sydney Bishop and Maryka Jansen are the freshman.

Dougherty was first team all-conference for Madison High School in Rexburg, Idaho, averaging 13.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. Johnson was named to the Salt Lake Tribune All-State Team her senior year. VanSlyke was a starter on Republic, the 2017 Washington 1B state champions, and Strom was a reserve for a Moses Lake team that finished fifth in state in 2017.

“I think what us sophomores are trying to impress for the other freshmen is that it takes hard work to get to where we are,” Garrity said. “None of us are D1 players right now and that’s why we’re here — to get better. So, us sophomores, including me, are trying to help the other freshmen see that it takes a lot of work, dedication, time and passion in order to get to where you want to be to be successful.”

Next: Big Bend vs. Eastern Washington Club, Nov. 17, 7 p.m., DeVries Activity Center; Big Bend vs. Edmonds, Nov. 18, 7 p.m., DeVries Activity Center

2016-17 record: 12-17 overall, 4-12 East, eighth

2016-17 leaders: Hailey Garrity, 11.31 points; Hailey Garrity, 8.00 rebounds; Sunnie Martinez, 3.19 assists

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