For Edmonds Community College men’s basketball Coach Kyle Gray, pulling in local talent for the Tritons’ program is an annual goal. With three graduates from South Snohomish County high schools making the Tritons’ 2018-2019 roster, that goal was certainly reached this year.
The Edmonds CC men’s basketball squad this season includes Mountlake Terrace 2018 grads Sean Kirk and Brendan Hayes and Cedar Park Christian – Mountlake Terrace 2018 graduate Erwin Weary Jr.
The three Triton freshmen and their teammates begin their new season on Saturday, Nov. 17, with a matchup against the Green River Gators at Everett Community College.
Seeing local high school grads get involved in Triton men’s basketball brought a smile to Gray’s face during a recent practice at the college. “We have a good amount from this area, but that’s where we want to be; we always want to start there. We’ve got to start with our local kids and programs,” Gray said.
“Certainly we have a good connection with all our local high school coaches, we feel,” he continued. “And we think they do a great job. So we want to start there.”
All three local players expressed excitement with the prospect of playing competitive basketball now that their high school careers are in the past.
“I’m definitely excited, definitely looking forward to it,” said Kirk. “(Mountlake Terrace High School) Coach (Nalin) Sood told me a lot of good things about all the coaches here. I’m excited to learn under Coach Gray, (Assistant) Coach Ron (Stiell-Williams), all of them.”
Weary echoed Kirk’s enthusiasm about playing college hoops: “I’m just excited to get ready and excited to play at college, any level of college,” Weary said.
While playing at the community college level may not bring the attention and prestige that comes with playing at Division I universities, the level of play is still demanding; making a roster in the Northwest Athletic Conference — the athletic league of 36 Pacific Northwest community colleges, including Edmonds — is still something to be celebrated, said Hayes.
“It’s really exciting. It just shows that all the hard work you put in over the four years (at high school), it’s finally paid off,” he stated.
Changing from their high school colors to the blue and green of the Edmonds Tritons means more than just a uniform change for Kirk, Weary and Hayes. The three freshman and 20 other Triton hopefuls spent weeks working out this fall, trying to impress Triton coaches and getting to know each other
Preseason bonding and practices are vital for community college basketball programs looking to form chemistry on teams that see players come and go annually or, at the most, every two years, Gray noted.
“We spend a lot of time off the court with them and focusing on them and how they’re going to function as a team,” Gray said.
“Our first week is not spent on the floor at all,” he continued. “Our first week is spent laying the foundation, talking a little bit about basketball but a lot about how we want to be and how we want to be good teammates and how we want to be coachable and all those things.”
The Triton roster is made up of eight freshmen and three sophomores from all over the Puget Sound area, plus a sophomore from Eastern Washington and a freshman from Montana. And while many of them may not have been complete strangers to each other at the beginning of the school year, it still takes some time for players to bond together as one unit.
“A lot of us have played together in select,” Kirk explained. “We definitely know each other but we haven’t been on a team together … It’s been a learning process, but we’re all coming together.”
Weary noted the efforts that the Coach Gray has put out in trying to create team chemistry.
“Coach does a good job of making our team mesh together,” Weary stated. “We have a lot of meetings, team bondings, we run together, we work out together; it’s pretty cool.”
Preseason bonding can take place in a number of ways, Hayes noted. The former Hawk recalled a recent trip the team took to a local extreme ropes course.
“We went 50 feet in the air together over on a swinging course,” Hayes said. “I’m never been more scared in my life.”
Hayes hopes all the work on and off the court he and his teammates have been in this fall can translate to success in games this winter.
“I think we’re starting to bond really well, which is really good,” Hayes said. “And I think this team has an alarming amount of skill. And if we can all trust each other and build a strong connection as a team, I think we can do really great things.”
To view the entire 2018-2019 Edmonds Tritons men’s basketball schedule, click http://nwacstats.org/sports/mbkb/2018-19/schedule?teamId=yy9oh35lkleddphw.
2018-2019 Edmonds Tritons Men’s Basketball
Coach: Kyle Gray (seventh season)
Roster: Sean Kirk (Mountlake Terrace HS), Erwin Weary Jr. (Cedar Park Christian – MLT HS), Brendan Hayes (Mountlake Terrace HS), Jordan Ehlert (Middle Park HS – Bozeman, Montana), Thomas Doyle (Roosevelt HS – Seattle), Parker Landdeck (Cashmere HS), Drew Magaoay (Cascade HS – Shoreline, Washington), Ryan Hamilton (Inglemoor HS), Brendan Tetrault (Glacier Peak HS), Cameron Burns (Marysville-Getchell HS), Ben Eshete (Highline HS – Des Moines, Washington), Alex Wallen (White River HS), Sidney White (Auburn HS)
2017-2018 record: 8-6 in NWAC North Division, 20-10 overall
2018-2019 key dates: Saturday, Nov. 17, vs. Green River at Everett CC (first game of season); Wednesday, Jan. 9 at Shoreline (2018 Edmonds-Woodway graduate David Woodard on Dolphins’ squad); Saturday, Jan. 18 at Everett (2017-2018 North Division regular season champions); Feb. 27, vs. Whatcom at home (final game of 2018-2019 regular season), Thursday, Mar. 7, start of 2019 NWAC Basketball Championships at Everett CC
— By Doug Petrowski