Prep girls basketball preview: Hawks aim to beat last year’s record

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New MTHS girls basketball Coach Tyler Stracener (right), a 2009 Terrace graduate, gets interviewed at Jam Session XXIV last week by Steve Willits. (Photo by Jonah Wallace)

Over the past three seasons the Mountlake Terrace Hawks girls basketball team has gone through two coaches and posted a dismal record of 6-53–but a change has come as the program is now turning to a 2009 MTHS grad in hopes of cementing some stability, consistency and more game victories.

The Tyler Stracener era for Terrace girls basketball begins on Wednesday, Nov. 29, as the Hawks travel to Oak Harbor to open the 2017-2018 season against the Wildcats.

Stracener was named the Terrace head coach last June and has seen a growing enthusiasm and interest in the program since coming on board.

“They’re excited to be in the gym,” Stracener said of this year’s players, “and it’s always easy to come in, as a coach, excited when you know your players are excited. So seeing their emotion and intensity coming into practice rubs off on me. They’re excited to get this season going.”

During tryouts this fall, the call for new hoop players at Mountlake Terrace was answered enough for Stracener to fill not only the varsity roster but a junior varsity and a ‘C’ team as well, squads that didn’t exist a year ago due to lack of interest.

“From what I’ve heard around the school, it was my sophomore year in 2007 – that was the last time they had a ‘C’ team,” Stracener noted. “The excitement in the building about girls basketball is definitely increasing, and it’s really nice to see.”

Seeing that excitement manifest itself into on-the-court victories may take some time for Terrace. The Hawks went 3-17 last year and play the bulk of this year’s games in the 3A Wesco League, a league that boasts three teams that played in the WIAA 3A State Girls Basketball Tournament last March, including state trophy winners Snohomish (3rd place in state) and Lynnwood (6th place in state). Terrace will also face state qualifiers from last year Sehome (2A State Tournament) and Zillah (1A State Tournament) in non-league match-ups this December.

But with five Hawks returning to the varsity squad this season, Stracener has some reasons to be optimistic about picking up some wins this year.

“We do have a lot of talent and a ton of potential,” Stracener stated. “As long as we’re able to really keep our heads on straight and focus on what needs to be done at that moment, I believe that a lot of these girls are going to be stepping up to their potential this year.”

Terrace will be led by returning senior starters Aynika Nuckles and Jazz Zenk – a four-year varsity team member –  with senior Reagan Stickney also expected to get plenty of playing time. Junior Nohea Morrison is back for her third year playing on the varsity squad. Trinity Prout and Kierra Scott will also return from last year’s team.

“These girls – I haven’t talked to them personally, but I hear them talking that they want to beat their record of last year,” Stracener said. “I think that’s a great goal to have.”

While wins and losses are important, Stracener is trying to keep the big picture of program stability and coherence in mind as he begins his first year at the helm of the Terrace girls basketball program.

“I really want to bring consistency for the girls,” he said. “The more consistent I am, the more consistent the program is going to be and hopefully the more consistent they’re going to be on the floor.”

To view the Mountlake Terrace Hawks full 2017-2018 schedule, click http://www.wescoathletics.com/index.php?eptab=schedule&level_id=12&pid=0.3.40.12.320&rid=8296&school_year=2017-18&team_level=Varsity#ep_tab_content_schedule.

2017-2018 MTHS Hawks Girls Basketball

Head Coach: Tyler Stracener (1st season)
2016-2017 record: 3-17 overall
Key returning players: Aynika Nuckles, Jazz Zenk, Nohea Morrison

Key dates:
Nov. 29 — first game of season at Oak Harbor
Dec. 2, Jan. 26 — games versus Lynnwood (6th in state last season)
Dec. 26-27 — games during the Mountlake Terrace Holiday Tournament
Feb. 2 — game at Snohomish (3rd in state last season)
Feb. 5 — final game of regular season, at home versus Marysville-Pilchuck
Feb. 8 — postseason play begins

–By Doug Petrowski

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