Kettle Falls boys and girls basketball 2019-20 season preview

By: 
Taylor Newquist
Sports Editor

Kettle Falls Boys

Kettle Falls boys basketball is heading into its 2019-20 season full of experience, and excited to challenge in one of the state’s strongest leagues.

Boys teams in the Northeast 2B League have played in each of the 13 state championship games since the ‘B’ school classification was split after 2006.

Of those, there have been eight state champions schools and eight state runner ups from the NE2B. The ‘North’ half of the league – where Kettle Falls finds itself – owns a large part of the success, with Northwest Christian winning five championships and one runner-up, St. George’s winning one championship and three runner-ups and Davenport earning one runner-up.

Among all these successful teams, how does Kettle Falls plan on surpassing its fourth place finish and two district tournament losses from a year ago? The Bulldogs have more seniors on their roster than any other team in the league, and that experience has them excited about making a run.

“I think we have a good shot at state this year,” senior point guard Matt Thompson said. “We have more guys coming off the bench, and our starting five is super solid.”

Thompson is a returning first team all-league player, and features as co-captain along with returning second team all-league forward Cade McKern. They highlight their senior class that includes: guard Tylor Feist, guard Carter Matney, forward Pheonyx Dodson and center Morgan Keller – who is the tallest on the team listed at 6-foot-5-inches.

“We had a lot of people put in work this offseason to get bigger, faster and stronger,” McKern said. “Just that in itself is going to improve our team so much.” Third year head coach Cameron Stewart said those seniors, aided by sophomore forward Braylen Pfeffer, who Stewart said could be an impact starter, will be the backbone of the Bulldogs.

Kettle Falls will look to spread the floor and beat teams with ball movement.

“Everybody is better,” Stewart said. “A lot of our guys put in a lot of work in the offseason, so we hope to improve our scoring by being more efficient with their shots.”

Kettle Falls’ 2018-19 season came to a close with a 54-49 loss to Lind-Ritzville/Sprague and a 60-46 loss to Chewelah in the district tournament. The Bulldogs open their season with a home game against Selkirk on Dec. 5. Last year, Kettle Falls played Selkirk in the second game and won 68-63.

 

Kettle Falls girls

Kettle Falls girls basketball is full of the same faces from a year ago, having graduated no players from its 2018-19 team.

The Bulldogs return with new leadership from their four seniors: point guard Zarah Johnson, guard Samantha Dudley, point guard Iris Armstrong and forward Jocelyn Glover.

Last year, Kettle Falls finished fifth in the Northeast 2B North League, tieing Chewelah with three league wins. The Bulldogs lost to Reardan 30-22 and Northwest Christian 60-26 in the first two rounds of the district tournament.

The league looks to be tough as ever with few teams graduating large senior classes. In the 13-year history of the 2B State Tournament, the NE2B has represented nine championship games, with eight state champions and three state runner-ups. Two champions and two runner-ups have been birthed from the NE2B League the last three years.

The Bulldogs, with 15-year head coach Tyler Edwards, like their chances.

“It is one of our more experienced teams,” T.Edwards said. “We have four seniors who have played on varsity since they were freshman, so we have good experience. We play in a tough league, but we should be able to compete every night.”

T.Edwards said that their goal is to become the first team in program history to make it to the state tournament.

“There’s only four teams that make it to the state tournament, but every year there’s easily seven (in our league) that could make it,” T.Edwards said. “You have to be that top echelon.”

T.Edwards said that the girls experience and diversity of talent will make them a tough out come playoffs.

Two of those Kettle Falls players are sophomore Mya Edwards and Johnson, who were the top two scorers a year ago. Edwards led the team as a freshman with 220 points (10.5 ppg) and Johnson was right behind her with 203 points (9.7 ppg).

“I’m really excited,” M.Edwards said. “My hope is that we can make it to the state tournament.”

Both M.Edwards and Johnson are coming off a fourth place finish at state cross country in the fall, with M.Edwards placing fourth and Johnson placing eighth. Both girls were a catalyst for the teams first team appearance at state in 2018, and subsequent finish this year. Now they set their eyes on doing the same in basketball.

“We’re feeling good about this season,” Johnson said. “We have a good team, an old team that’s been playing together for a long time. So this is our year.”

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