The Peninsula High School girls basketball team hopes to take the next step this year under third-year head coach Steve Jacobson.
But the Seahawks, who went 10-10 overall and just 2-8 in South Puget Sound League play last season, will have to do so without Leigh Iosia, their No. 1 scorer from a year ago, and Tyler Stolz, their league leader in rebounds.
“We’re losing a phenomenal rebounder, our best post defender, and our best post passer,” Jacobson said. “We’re also losing Leigh. She was, hands down, our best offensive player. She could create her own plays.”
Instead, the Seahawks will be led by senior guard Toni Helwig and senior center Rilee Zilkey. They also return guards Shelly Lauderbaugh and Maddie Stelle, posts Michala Zilkey and Kirstine Rivera.
Rilee Zilkey said the team should be better than last year.
“I believe that we have an uber-team,” she said. “We have everything that everyone needs, all together. We have a bunch of girls that just play together and will have played together for so long. We know each other.”
The Seahawks installed a new offense last year that Jacobson picked up from Peninsula College. He said the team is much farther along than they were at this point last season.
“We just seem to be a lot more comfortable running it,” Jacobson said. “We’ve had so many more kids understand everything that we’re doing. If anything were to happen with any one of my kids, there’s plenty of kids we feel comfortable bringing up, that they would at least understand the offensive philosophy, the defensive philosophy, and what they’re trying to accomplish out there.”
Jacobson said he’s trying to build a program, rather than just coach separate teams each season. And he’s seen last year’s work carry over to this season.
“We just really want to improve as a program and ensure that we don’t have one year where you’re going to be amazing, and then everyone’s going to leave, and then you’re not going to have any more people to play,” Rilee Zilkey said. “We want to make sure everyone’s set.”
Most of the girls have played together for years in different leagues. Helwig said she thinks the bond will carry over.
“We have new people coming in, and everyone comes to practice and is ready and has confidence in themselves, and confidence in their teammates, and I think having confidence in your teammates and working well together plays a big role in winning,” she said.
Despite losing those key components, Jacobson said he hopes the program he’s trying to build will yield success.
“It’s one of those seasons where a lot of our production left,” he said. “We know we have the people to step up. We’re just going to let this play out and see what happens, and give people the opportunities to see what they can do. We have the kids that are ready to do that.”
Helwig said it may come down to how well the players gel with one another.
“I think team bonding is going to be a huge thing this year,” she said. “This year, we’re going to be really close, and we’ll need that team bond to be able to work together.”
seahawks’ girls basketball schedule
Dec. 3vs. Central Kitsap7 p.m.
Dec. 5vs. Washington7 p.m.
Dec. 10vs. North Kitsap7 p.m.
Dec. 14at Gig Harbor5:15 p.m.
Dec. 16at North Thurston7 p.m.
Dec. 19at Franklin Pierce7 p.m.
Dec. 21at Thomas Jefferson7:30 p.m.
Dec. 28at River Ridge7:30 p.m.
Jan. 3vs. Mount Tahoma7 p.m.
Jan. 7at Bonney Lake7 p.m.
Jan. 10vs. Decatur7 p.m.
Jan. 13vs. North Mason7 p.m.
Jan. 14at Enumclaw7 p.m.
Jan. 17 at Auburn Mountainview7:15 p.m.
Jan. 21vs. Lakes7 p.m.
Jan. 24vs. Bonney Lake7 p.m.
Jan. 28at Decatur7 p.m.
Jan. 31 vs. Enumclaw7 p.m.
Feb. 4vs. Auburn Mountainview7 p.m.
Feb. 7vs. Lakes7 p.m.