The sentiment out of Spokane is the Lady Owls are in position to do much more than rely on Paige Tate to shine in the post.
“We want to be able to put five players on the floor who are all capable of scoring and defending,” coach Garet Nunan said. “We feel we have that type of personnel.”
Spokane’s starting five will consist of Tate in the middle, Josie Jordan and Maddi Bonzer at forward and Raylen Wallace and Micayla McClure at guard.
The hope is McClure can join Tate in elite company. McClure averaged a team-high 3.3 assists and 3.1 steals last season.
“I’m counting on her to be a leader and set up the offense,” Nunan said. “Also, she’s our leading defender. I think she’s going to have a breakout season and be one of the better point guards in the area.”
The ball-handling of McClure and Wallace, as much as anything, helped Spokane upset New Covenant on its way to the Class 2 District 11 championship game last season.
“We went from a team that was below average when the season started to a team that could compete with 20-win teams regularly,” Nunan said. “We showed at the end of the season that we were a formidable squad. The guard play was what took us to the point we were at. They took care of the ball, shot consistently well and were legitimate threats.”
Wallace averaged 11.2 points a game as a freshman last season.
“She’s going to be expected to contribute more as a sophomore,” Nunan said. “3-point shooting is in her blood. On top of that, she’s athletic can take it to the rim. She can score inside with pull-up jumpers and gives us a toughness you usually don’t see. She led our team in charges taken.”
Tate will again lead the front line. She’s coming off a junior year in which her norms were 20.3 points and 14.0 rebounds and she joined the Lady Owls’ 1,000-point club. Nunan reports Tate’s shooting range has expanded to the perimeter.
“If she’s open, she can shoot the 3. She’s got the green light,” he said. “Paige is so well-rounded. She can dribble and handle the basketball. You might see her help us break some presses. We’re lucky to have all the things she can do offensively and defensively. Because of her, we’re a hard to guard team.”
Nunan likes the effort Jordan and Bonzer give to fill their roles.
“Josie keeps our girls level-headed, as well as being a good rebounder and passer,” Nunan said. “She puts herself in position where she’s there for a lot of rebounds. She works ahead of time so when it comes time for a rebound, it comes right to her. We’re going to count on Maddi to be a good defender, take care of the ball and be a willing scorer when she’s open.”
Spokane is the fourth seed in this week’s Blue Eye Tournament. The Lady Owls (2-1) lost to Hollister 44-42 in the first round Monday. Their tourney trail will also include the Pink & White Lady Classic and the Marionville Classic.
“The Blue Eye Tournament has a lot of teams who are on a similar level as us,” Nunan said. “We have a goal to win a game in the Pink & White. We have our eyes on winning a championship at Marionville.”