The 2011-12 women’s basketball season was one to remember. After completing the best season in 19 years Pierce earned a bid to the NWAACC Tournament but all good things aside, the 2012-2013 season is here in full swing for the Raiders. Western Region play will tip off in high fashion with plenty of strength throughout the league. Having added 11 new players to the roster no one knows what to expect from the team this season besides the Raiders that is… With the size, speed, and athleticism the Raiders are primed with the pieces all in place and are looking to extend their run in the NWAACC Tournament at the Toyota Center in Kennewick this season.
The Raiders are coming off of a playoff berth from the 2011-12 season with a record of 11-5 in Western Region play. With 10 of 12 spots being filled by freshmen, there are still high expectations with some big shoes to be filled from a year ago as the Raiders enter the 2012-13 season. With only one returner returning from last year’s play-off team, the Raider’s Women’s Basketball team will continue to build on last years’ experience. The Raiders will make some noise and aim to be in the top third of the Western Region Conference play again this season. The Raiders continue to improve their skills and chemistry and have worked hard as a team during off season. As regular season approaches, their skills will be put to the test but, not after competing against some perennial power house teams at various tournaments
The Raiders will pride themselves on their defensive capabilities and have added more score stoppers since the previous year. Pierce was atop the top teams in the NWAACC for multiple statistical categories. Most notably is being first in average steals per game in the entire NWAACC and falling in a close second for total steals with only one less steal than Clackamas who played one more game than the Raiders. The Raiders were also fourth in the NWAACC in free-throws made on the season. The aggressive offensive nature of the team got the Raiders to the line frequently. Amongst other statistics, the Raiders were first in the Western Region in 3-pointers made, total steals and total blocks in addition to being in second for points scored per game and total rebounds.
A strong supporting cast of underclassmen will lead this team this year. As usual, a fast paced, run –and-gun offense and pressure defense will help elevate this team to the next level. Look for Sophomore Kawehi Hagi (SO, Kapolei, HI) to be amongst the top players in the NWAACC. Hagi, reigning "Freshman of the Year" for the West Region in 2012 will help lead this talented group of freshman. Hagi will move from the point guard position to a more comfortable role as a wing player. Her explosive first step and ability to get to the basket will put her at the top with the elite guards in the league. Although Hagi is capable of playing a lot of minutes, the Raiders with more depth this year will help provide much needed rest for this all-star to improve productivity towards the end of the season.
The overall guard play will be very strong this year. Joining Hagi as the only other sophomore on the team is transfer shooting guard Carli Elwin (SO, Bonney Lake, WA). Elwin saw limited action last season at Spokane but that will not be the case here. Elwin is expected to play a considerable amount of minutes. Prior to attending Spokane, Elwin was recruited by the Pierce Staff for her pure shooting ability. Elwin is a sharp shooter and will be amongst the top shooters in the NWAACC. She will help provide a consistent threat beyond the arc that the Raiders lacked last season. While at Spokane Carli shot an impressive 38% from the three-point line. Elwin has the ability to really change the course of the game with her perimeter shooting. Not only will she be relied on for her scoring ability but for her playmaking and leadership as well.
Taking command of the team as the expected starting point guard is Freshman Alyssa Simonson (FR, Covington, WA). Simonson has the ability to handle the ball under any pressure while maintaining her composure and leading this team. Don’t be fooled by her small 5 foot 4 inch frame. She is very effective at distributing the ball and also has the capability to score. Look for Simonson in various statistical categories in the NWACC including rebounds. She reads the ball off of the rim very well. This rebounding ability will help get our fast break offense going.
Nicole Jones (FR, Bremerton, WA) is a quick and aggressive player and will contribute to the defensive efforts of the team. She will get most of her playing time based off of her defense and her ability to lock down top players as a defender. Jones will also serve as backup point guard as well. Another defensive stopper is Elyssa Quichocho (FR, Lacey, WA). Quichocho uses her quickness and length to her advantage as one of the top defenders on the team. Combating a foot injury, Quichocho will sit out for pre-season and is expected to be ready to compete for the regular season. Tamar Rodrigues rounds up the back court. Rodrigues, also former high school teammate of Hagi ignites a spark on the defense end. Look for her challenge the top players in this league. Her defensive energy fuels her offense. You will often find Rodrigues scoring in the open floor on transition plays.
Aeysia Rogers (FR, Federal Way, WA) and Alexa Goodenow (FR, University Place, WA) will help solidify the frontcourt for the Raiders. These two will add much needed height to this team standing both at 5’11”. If the Raiders can get the ball to the post players down low (something they have struggled with in years past) both Rogers and Goodenow can anchor this team. Rogers will provide a presence close to the basket. Her quickness will be hard to contain. Her length and athleticism will allow her to be a force on the boards and provide a strong defensive presence around the basket, not only with her lateral mobility but with her shot blocking capabilities as well. Although she will play primarily in the post/forward position and play with her back to the basket, look for her to square up and knock down some mid-range shots as well. Goodenow brings a lot of energy and strength to our low post position but is an equal threat from beyond the arc. Her height accentuated by her shooting and driving ability will be hard to defend. Most post players will not be able to defend her on the wing and most guards can’t contend with her height. Look for Goodenow to exploit other teams and take advantage of mis-matches. Goodenow’s unique combination of size, skill and athleticism will make her a dominant force in the NWAACC.
Terra McGinn (FR, Libertyville, IL), Diamond Carter (FR, Kapolei, HI), Mackenzie Lancaster (FR, Puyallup, WA), and Brionna Hart (FR, Tukwila, WA) will round out the front court and all compete for minutes. McGinn comes to the Raider program after serving eight years in the military. Standing tall at 6’1” she is the tallest player on the team. This will definitely be an advantage to this team as their average height increase from last year. Her strength, mental toughness and ability to grab rebounds will be key assets for this young team. Carter, former high school teammate of Kawehi Hagi will add more depth to the post position. Her ability to play with her back to the basket is second to none.
Lancaster originally signed with North Seattle Community College but after the demise of their sports programs, Lancaster signed to play for the Raiders. Her athleticism is very unique and her size is deceiving. Only 5’9 she prefers to play a post but will share time at the post and wing positions as needed. Her standards for herself are set high and she will not disappoint. Hart’s ability to shoot and drive to the basketball makes her a dual threat from the field. As with most of our forwards she has the ability to play on the wing as well. Her ball handling is superior and will help take some of the load off of our guards.
Look for the Raiders to contend for a Regional Championship this season as the Raiders continue to work hard, and remain academically sound to achieve this goal. Discipline is sure to guide them in the right direction! The biggest advantage for the Raiders seems to be their chemistry on the floor with one another and their knowledge of the game. If all the players remain steadfast to the team’s missions, choose to put their teammates first, and play every game like it’s their last, the Raiders are sure to be atop the best team in the Region as well as the NWAACC.