SVSJ preview: Mount Si girls’ basketball adjusts to life with new coaching staff, seeking to continue rebuilding phase

EDITOR’S NOTE: We continue our Valley high school winter sports preview series today on Black Friday by taking a look at Mount Si High School’s girls’ basketball team’s chances for the upcoming season as they begin a new chapter under new coach Taylor Bass. We wrap up with wrestling tomorrow. 

A new era is beginning in Mount Si High School’s girls’ basketball program. And top returner Elizabeth Prewitt can see it. “I feel like coming into even spring and summer and fall, there was something new in the air. You could feel change was happening and change for the better,” she said.

Last season, the team went 3-18 as it began a long-term program rebuild under former head coach Megan Botulinski, who resigned to pursue a career in school administration. The search for her replacement was a bit protracted, but Mount Si this summer hired ex-Skyline assistant Taylor Bass to take the reins, and the new coach is committed to establishing a strong winning program, from the youth level all the way up to the high school level.

“The biggest thing for me is starting from the absolute bottom with the fourth and fifth graders all the way to the top and making sure that we do a very good job of helping these kids get better every single day, because it’s a consistent grind throughout the season,” Bass said. “We have to make sure that we’re working just as hard in day one as we are on the very last day of the season.”

Bass assumes a program that once again this fall will be full of youth, with only around 10 or so players being juniors or seniors. Leading that group are Prewitt and fellow senior returner Madi Bevens, who will look to have a breakout season this winter. Bass is pleased with what he sees from the two top veteran players. “The thing I appreciate about both of them is they’re keeping their teammates involved and trying to get them to work just as hard as they are,” the coach said.

Elizabeth Prewitt, seen here  last season playing for Mount Si High School's girls' basketball team, is one of three key senior players this winter for the Wildcats under new head coach Taylor Bass. (Photo courtesy Calder Productions)

Elizabeth Prewitt, seen here last season playing for Mount Si High School’s girls’ basketball team, is one of three key senior players this winter for the Wildcats under new head coach Taylor Bass. (Photo courtesy Calder Productions)

There’s a third senior, though, that is joining the team this winter, and she brings with her some strong credentials. CeOna Duggins comes to Mount Si from the perennially strong Garfield High School program in Seattle, and she hopes fans see her versatility and strong presence on the court. “I want them to see my aggressiveness, especially on defense, and me being able to kick out to different players, (and) be a big factor on the court,” Duggins said.

She is recovering from an ACL tear in her left knee she suffered last season, so that could be a factor for her early on, but she told the SVSJ she’s currently doing extra work to get that knee back in shape, so Duggins may become a key piece as the season wears on.

She’s pleased with how the transition to her new team is going. “It’s definitely different, but I have adapted well with the girls. They’re very friendly and very encouraging,” Duggins said.

A top junior returner that people will have their eye on this season is post Annie Hiebert. Bass likes what he sees with Hiebert starting the season. “The biggest thing with her is just getting that confidence up and letting her know that even if she is a little shorter than some of the other posts, she can outwork them and she’s just as physical as they are,” Bass said. Hiebert looks forward to working with the new coaching staff. “Obviously we miss our old coaches, but we’re really excited to have this new coaching staff. They’re really great. They’ve put in a lot of time to help us out and I think we’re going to have a really good season because of them,” Hiebert said.

By far, the overwhelming pick to be the class of Kingco this winter is Inglemoor, but Bass points out that with significant turnover around the league as a result of large graduating classes from many of the top programs this past spring, Mount Si could be a darkhorse despite how it looks on paper. “It’s a perfect opportunity for us to come in as a little known school, (a) team that didn’t do very well last year, for us to be a little under the radar and surprise some people,” he said.

In addition to Bass, two of his top assistants are also new. Joining the program as lead varsity assistant is Lynnette Landis, whom Bass has known for a long time and who has over 15 years of experience in basketball-related training, and coming aboard as head junior varsity coach is Ron Pimentel, who replaces longtime JV head man Larry White. Of Landis, Bass expects her to be able to work well with the players. “She has that knowledge and that experience and that know how, how well to push these kids and how to take those things that they do well and how to enhance the things that they don’t,” the head coach said.

Prewitt is happy with how things have gone thus far.

“Personally, it’s gone very smoothly for me. I’ve worked with Coach Bass since I was a freshman. I’ve known Coach Landis since I was nine years old, so it’s been a very smooth transition for me,” Prewitt said. “I know how they operate. I know what they want to see out of people. I know what they really value in in practices and games as players, so I think that’s really helped me and the team coming in knowing what they want.”

Team unity will also be a big selling point for the Wildcats this winter. When the SVSJ visited their practice earlier this week to conduct interviews for this preview, the team had just returned from a weekend team-building trip to Chelan. Hiebert thinks the team’s strong friendship amongst one another will be a key this season. “We’re lucky to have a really close group of girls this year. I think we all really bond well together on and off the court and our closeness outside of basketball is just going to help us even more on the court,” she said.

But, at the end of the day, all of that won’t mean too much without a few wins in their pocket. The biggest thing fans should expect from the girls is something that was a hallmark of both Botulinski and her predecessor, Dirk Hansen. It starts with the letter D. “Biggest thing is defense,” Bass said. “I want to make sure we have a very good understanding of what it’s going to take to win on the defensive side.” The head coach added, “If we’re the hardest working team in the gym every time, we’re going to have a very good chance to win games.”

Prewitt hopes fans will come away impressed with how the team performs. “I want them to come away from the games knowing that this is a new program, a new program that prides themselves in their hard work and their defense and their commitment to becoming better,” she said.

Mount Si opens its season next Friday night at 6:30 against Eastlake. The Wildcats’ home games are all against conference foes this winter, as all four of their non-league games will take place at their holiday tournament over the winter break down in San Diego.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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