The 2018-19 basketball season was fun while it lasted for the Warrenton Lady Warriors.
The Warriors finished with their first 20-win season since 2009-10, a second-place finish in the new Coastal Range League, a No. 7 rating in the final OSAA poll and a sixth-place finish at state.
The league looks pretty much the same, but the Warriors will have some new names on the floor and on the bench.
Head coach Robert Hoepfl has moved east, while four of Warrenton's five all-league players have graduated — leaving new coach Jake Mullins a tough task of taking the Warriors back to the state tournament.
“Obviously Robert and the system he ran was successful in what they did,” Mullins said, “so I plan to take some of what he did and add some of my own coaching to that.”
The Coastal Range League looks much the same as did a year ago. Clatskanie first, Warrenton second and everybody else far behind.
The Tigers and Coach of the Year John Blodgett won the 2018-19 league title with a 12-0 record and ultimately knocked off Blanchet Catholic 40-39 in the state championship game.
Don't expect the Tigers to level off any time soon. Clatskanie lost just one senior, while four of the Tigers' all-league players return.
That list includes junior Shelby Blodgett, the league's Player of the Year last season as a sophomore. Olivia Sprague is also back for her junior year, as is Kaity Sizemore and sophomore Cloee McLeod.
“Clatskanie being the defending state champion, and four of those being sophomores, they're the favorites,” said Mullins, who was an assistant coach to Nate McBride for the Warrenton boys last year.
“I've seen Shelby Blodgett play and the ability that she has, and Olivia (Sprague) as well … they're going to be tough. Willamina also returns some very good, scrappy players. And Rainier with (coach) Doug Knox, he's always going to have them competitive.”
The Warriors were second behind Clatskanie's 12-0 in the league standings last year with a 9-3 record, with Willamina third at 6-6.
Warrenton's nonleague schedule should have the Warriors ready to compete once league play starts.
“We've got some tough games on the schedule,” Mullins said. “We open at the Sutherlin tournament, we've got Santiam Christian and Dayton in the Dayton tournament, we play at Amity (Dec. 28) and we've got Seaside later in the season (Jan. 8), so we will see some tough teams.”
The Lady Warriors
Fortunately for the Warriors, they've still got multi-sport star Kenzie Ramsey, ready for her final year of perhaps her best sport.
Ramsey spent the fall kicking 3-pointers on the football field, and is a 3-point sharp-shooting senior on the basketball court.
In addition, “I like our ability to scrap and our athleticism,” Mullins said. “We've got Kenzie coming back, and all that she brings. Melia Kapua (Sr.) played a lot of minutes, and hit some big shots against Willamina (in a 50-41 league playoff victory), so her experience will be big. And Avyree Miethe (So.) returns to the lineup. Those three are always talking about what it takes to win.”
It's filling the holes lost to graduation that will be Warrenton's challenge.
Fernanda Alvarez, Claire Bussert, Adriana Dejesus and Maria Heyen were four of Warrenton's six seniors lost to graduation, and all four were all-league.
“The numbers being what they are, we're not going to have a lot coming off the bench,” Mullins said. “But I like the scrapiness and the ability we have returning. Just that athleticism will be good to have.”