MOSES LAKE — It was a youth movement for Moses Lake boys basketball a season ago.
With only two seniors, the Chiefs reached the Columbia Basin Big Nine district championship game and the regional round of the state tournament. A district championship and trip to the Tacoma Dome eluded the Chiefs, but there’s room for plenty of optimism in 2017-18.
However, before Moses Lake can hope to replicate the success from last season it has to accomplish a simple goal at the start of this season.
“First of all, I want to win a game. That’s a big thing,” head coach John Hohman said. “And then we want to get back. We want a league championship, we want to get back to state, we want to compete every game — those are the things that we’ve got to focus on.”
Moses Lake’s outlook was thrown into flux in the offseason. Reigning Columbia Basin Big Nine Player of the Year Zach Phillips moved to Utah and then forward Gio Walker broke his foot the second game of football season.
Suddenly, two starting spots from a season ago needed to be filled.
Phillips eventually decided to return to Moses Lake and rejoined the team. Hohman said Walker hopes to begin playing at the end of December.
“Gio and Zach are both our captains this year,” Hohman said. “Cory’s (Kunjara) done some good things, so has Evan (McLean) and Michael (Byers) — they’ve stepped up to fill that because there was a time when we didn’t think that Zach was going to be back... I guess the stars turned the right way for us.”
In addition to Phillips and Walker, Kunjara and McLean round out the returning starters. Dax Lindgren, Kyle Karstetter, Logan Sperline, Zach Valdez, Jordan Rios and Lorenz Thomas are other players that Hohman said he was excited about.
The CBBN proved to be a deep league last season and that trend should continue. Moses Lake, Davis and Wenatchee have been the usual suspects at the top of the standings. West Valley emerged last season to finish No. 2 behind league and district champion Davis. Eisenhower played spoiler to a few teams with its run-and-gun style and Sunnyside was no slouch with is guard duo of Art Palacios and Trey Sanchez.
“I think the competitiveness is just going to get better, I really do,” Hohman said. “It’s going to be a tough fight, like always. Davis, obviously, is probably the team then there’s West Valley, Wenatchee, Eastmont, Sunnyside with the new coach ... Eisenhower — they had a great season. There’s no patsies this year, that’s for sure. We’re all about real equal so it will be a boxing match the whole way.”
Next: at Kennewick, Dec. 1, 7 p.m.; vs. Walla Walla, Dec. 2, 7 p.m.