High School Basketball

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Nooksack Valley Pioneers

Coach: Shane Wichers

Last year: Finished 16-9 with a 6-6 Northwest Conference record. ... Went 2-2 in the district playoffs to qualify for tri-district, where the Pioneers lost 50-43 to Eatonville.

Players to watch: Mariah Perry (sr., guard); Emilia Gimmaka (jr., forward); Brianna Turner (jr., post); Arlissa Oettel (jr., guard)

Outlook: The Pioneers lost five seniors from a team that made the tri-district tournament last year, so there are plenty of players being forced into new roles. Perry is a strong point guard, who average 8.3 points per game last year, while Nooksack has Oettel (3.3 points per game last year) at the two-guard, and she can hit some 3s. Gimmaka (4.6) and Turner (6.9) are both very good juniors. The key for the Nooksack will be to just keep doing the same things offensively they’ve always done, Wichers said in a phone interview. “Be simple and easy. Make the easy decision. Not force things. If we can do that, we can open shots,” Wichers said. Wichers said the team also will need to focus on playing tough defensively and making sure opponents don’t get off uncontested shots.