CLS hoops recap and look to spring

Left to right (front-row) Sophomore Cynthia Laplante, sophomore Mikayla Malatare, sophomore Catilina Dillon, freshman Jusstina Murrietta. (second-row) Junior Jazmyne Sanchez, sophomore Alicia Pluff, freshman Kenya ScabbyRobe. (back-row) Assistant coach Danielle Stewart, sophomore McKayla Mills, sophomore Cameron Walhs, freshman Zoe Corpuz, freshman Nicole Roy, head coach Jarrod Plummer. Photo by Rocky Ross.

It was a bit of a mixed bag for the Chief Leschi High School basketball teams this season. Expectations were lofty for the boys team, after fielding a state tournament team last season. With the nucleus of the team returning this year, the boys were expected to reach new heights. Well, as everyone know, expectations are hard to live up to for adults, and even more difficult for teenagers. While the team put forth a winning season, the Warriors would ultimately enter a district tournament that was an absolute meat grinder. In the end, Chief Leschi would have to settle for a 14-8 record and no trip to Spokane.

Left to right (front-row) Junior Chris Lee, junior Kahea Baker, sophomore Delshae Gower, senior RJ Vandel, senior Khyree McQueen. (back-row) Assistant coach Robert Crawford, junior Isaiah Horton, junior Christopher Whitford, sophomore CJ Durr-Schaffer, sophomore Donnelle Irvine, head coach Scott Halasz. Photo by Rocky Ross.

However, the future is bright for this boys team. Not only will the nucleus return again, they also have Co-MVP of the 2B Pacific League returning for two more seasons. Sophomore Donnelle Irvin set the tone for this team and became one of the two biggest threats in the entire league. Watch out next year!

The girls team didn’t have such high expectations. For a team that has recently just gotten used to winning some games, this year’s team included a drastic move toward a younger look. With four freshmen, six sophomores and a lone junior in the mix, it’s safe to say that the 2-17 result this season is going to see a serious bump in the win column next year.

We caught up with Chief Leschi athletic director and boys basketball coach Scott Halasz for a quick look back at the past season for both teams.

Puyallup Tribal News – While 14-8 obviously wasn’t the way you planned things to end, there were still some positives to take away from this season weren’t there?

Scott Halasz – “We definitely underachieved this season, but we learned a lot of valuable lessons about what it truly takes to be a consistent state contender year after year. We have to become better players, coaches, and stay dedicated to our goals all year round. With that said, we have our entire starting five back again with only two of them being seniors. We should have all the boxes checked next year for bringing to the table everything it takes to be a contender. Experience, Leadership, Talent, All conference Players, and the League MVP.”

Puyallup Tribal News – When the district tournament ended, just one Pacific League team – champion Life Christian – advanced to the regional round, and that was as a fourth seed. The champion of the Central League was the fifth seed. This may have been the toughest district tournament in the state. It must have felt like you didn’t even have time to catch your breath before your boys were ousted.

Scott Halasz – “Oh man, it was by far one of the toughest district tourneys to make it out of in any classification. All the teams were good enough to beat each other on any given night and that’s exactly what happened. It’s almost sad to see some of these great teams go home while another district gets three teams in who aren’t even in the top-20 of the RPI. It’s definitely a flawed system. I believe Crosspoint was the district champions over on their side and we mopped them up by 20 points. I Toledo will do the same or even worse in their regional matchup.”

Puyallup Tribal News – The girls team didn’t have the best of years, but compared to many winless seasons in recent history, they’re obviously doing better. What’s it going to take to get more ladies involved with the program moving forward?

Scott Halasz – “The girls will be on the rise. Mark my words on that statement. They were literally full of freshman and sophomores with their oldest player being one junior. They also have a beast coming up from middle school next year that will possibly be all-conference as a freshman. The important thing the girls learned this year was how to be a team and how to stay dedicated and committed even when times were tough. That is going to benefit them so much in the years to come. I will guarantee they make a district playoff appearance next season!”

Puyallup Tribal News – Spring sports will be kicking off very soon. What’s your outlook for the track, baseball and fastpitch teams?

Scott Halasz – “Spring sports is kicking off in late February. Track is looking great and consistent as usual with Michael Williams at the helm. I expect a couple state qualifiers to come out of our track team. We have also had the most amount of kids signed up for both baseball and softball since I have been here, so those two programs are really looking to turn the corner and become super competitive this year within their respective conference.”

Puyallup Tribal News – Are you enjoying this new challenge as not just a head coach, but also the athletic director at Chief Leschi?

Scott Halasz – “The challenge so far has been interesting to say the least. It really affected me the most during basketball season trying to pull-off head coach and AD duties.  As the year goes on I am becoming more and more confident with each obstacle that has come my way. My favorite part so far is that as I adapt to all the nuances of the job, I feel my vision growing even bigger as I gain a better understanding on how to run things smoothly.”