New markers needed for Central Washington basketball teams | CWU Sports

Central Washington’s men’s and women’s basketball teams possessed great offensive firepower last season, when both Wildcats teams put up more points per game than any of their GNAC peers.

The women return perhaps the league’s top scorer in preseason GNAC Player of the Year Samantha Bowman, a Zillah graduate returning for her fifth and final season. But Central coaches will rely heavily on the newcomers to replace a major loss in production.

“I think there’s a lot of potential there and it remains to be seen what it is,” women’s coach Randi Richardson-Thornley said. “But I think we have a lot of great tracks and it’s just about the band coming together and trusting what we’re doing.”

Bowman earned GNAC first-team honors last year after averaging 16.2 points and breaking the GNAC single-season record with 477 rebounds, or 15.9 per game. Another 414 would tie the league career high of 1,181, and she spent a lot of time training to prepare for double teams in the position.

That should happen a lot more after Central lost their other two all-GNAC first-team players, Kizzah Maltezo and Kassidy Malcolm, to graduation. They combined for nearly 37 points per game while making 152 of the Wildcats’ 290 3-pointers.

GNAC Men’s Player of the Year Xavier Smith also exhausted his eligibility, leaving a big hole that goes way beyond his team-best 18.4 points per game. The Wildcats also lost two more double-digit scorers in guard David Thompson and inside threat Marqus Gilson.

Coach Brandon Rinta says fifth-year senior Matt Poquette will be the mainstay of the team after averaging 12.8 games a year ago, scoring at least 10 points in all but his last 15 games. a. The 6ft 6in forward from Morton said he is ready for an expanded attacking role.

“I have to go out and be aggressive in attack and just help relieve the pressure from some (of my teammates),” Poquette said. “When I have a bigger guy on me I can stretch the floor a bit and walk past him or I can also post so it’s just a game-by-game basis and just what the team expects from me .”

Fellow returning players Colby Gennett and Isaiah Banks could also contribute after playing significant minutes last season. On the women’s side, Bowman’s confident starters Tori Maeda and Sunshine Huerta can provide more offense from the perimeter.

But Richardson said one of his strongest freshman classes will have to play right away, especially with season-ending injuries to returning guards Brinley Hagemeier and Jenna Troy, as well as Central’s limited size. . Ashley Schow 6-1 and Chariity Hines 6-3 should learn a lot from facing Bowman every day in practice.

“Everyone needs a little growth,” Bowman said. “Everyone has things they can work on, but from where we are, we’re in a good place.”

Rinta has completed four Division I transfers, all of which bring a fine away goal and shot record. But Rinta said the biggest challenge is always finding players who can also defend, so he’s looking forward to seeing how this group will come together on this side of the ball.

Selah graduate Noah Pepper could also find a role after battling injuries in a redshirt debut season. He will seek time on the perimeter alongside transfers Landis Spivey, Camron McNeil and Freddy Brown III.

“I’m coming off the bench right now, so (I’m) just bringing that spark that the team needs throughout the game for 40 minutes and doing my best every time,” said Brown III, who has averaged 28 points per game as a senior at Nathan Hale before spending four years at Montana. “Defending is something I really try to be proud of because at my last school they said I couldn’t play defense.”

Both central teams face the challenge of starting the season without access to their field at Nicholson Pavilion due to renovations that are expected to continue until Christmas. The Wildcats practice at the student recreation center and expect to play most home games in Ellensburg, with three women’s games and one men’s game at Yakima Valley College’s Sherar Gymnasium.

But they will start their seasons with three road trips and six road games, starting with a men’s game against Cal State Monterey Bay in Monmouth, Oregon. Friday at 5 p.m. Nampa, Idaho, against Cal State East Bay, the West Region’s No. 1 seed in last year’s NCAA Division II Tournament.