Prep girls basketball preview: Royals’ new coach Brandon Newby ready for season

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2016-17 Season – 12-0 in 2A/3A Wesco League 22-6 overall
1st place in Wesco 2A/3A, 1st place in Districts, 6th place in State Tournament
Head Coach: Brandon Newby
Key Losses: Kelsey Rogers, Kaprice Boston, Taylor Fahey, Reilly Walsh
Key Returners: Rachel Walsh, Abby Douglas, Valerie Bell, Kia Crawford, Nakia Boston, Amayah Kirkman

Ninety-eight wins and just 11 losses. One 6th place finish, two 3rd place finishes and a 3A State Championship. Nine players that have graduated and gone on and played basketball at the next level.

Those are just some highlights from the past four years of Lynnwood girls basketball. Four years that defined the four careers of last year’s key senior starters: Kelsey Rogers who is now playing at Western Washington; Kaprice Boston who is continuing her career at Northern Arizona; Taylor Fahey, playing at Pacific Lutheran; and Reilly Walsh at Concordia Irvine.

The Royals also graduated a fifth player–Maddie Morgan, who is one of the more talented high school softball players in the nation who now graces the diamond at the University of Alabama.

“We have six seniors coming back, but eight varsity returners coming back, and they all have a high basketball I.Q.,” Coach Brandon Newby said. “We’ve got Rachel Walsh, Abby Douglas, Kia Crawford and Valerie Bell, who is expected to return sometime mid-season after a knee injury. That’s a strong group of senior leadership, but then we’ve also got a strong sophomore group. They’re really surprising me.”

Among those sophomores he highlighted two players that played significant minutes as freshmen last year in Nakia Boston and Amayah Kirkman. “They saw a lot of playing time in the summer. I got that experience for them so that they could be ready to go, and they have taken on a leadership role. They don’t play like sophomores, they play like seniors.”

Coach Newby takes over the program this year, replacing Brent Hudson who coached just one year after taking over for nine-year coach Everett Edwards. Newby, a 1994 graduate of Lynnwood High, coached previously in the Lake Stevens program. Before that, he was the boys varsity head coach at Joshua Springs High School in Yucca Valley, California, taking his team to the state semi-finals twice.

He cites the help of parents and the players, as well as some advice from former coach Hudson as aiding in a smooth coaching transition.

“He’s really given me a lot of help as far as transition and how to communicate with the players,” Newby said.

Normally, a roster that two years ago graduated NCAA D1 players like Mikayla Pivec (Oregon State) and Jordyn Edwards (Colorado State) in addition to the five from last season would be viewed as a program most likely depleted of talent and shifting into a rebuilding phase.

Not so, if you ask coach Newby.

“I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people,” he said. “People think we’re down this year, but that’s right where we want them. I don’t think they understand the depth that we have. They’re going to underestimate us. It’s a good place to be. I don’t see why we can’t defend the 3A Wesco. I know that people are counting against us, but we have the athletes to put on a good run. Come conference time, we’re going to be right there near the top. Stanwood and Snohomish are pretty tough. They return everybody. That’s where the challenge is going to be, and then Arlington’s always got a good squad too.”

The Lady Royals will kick off the 2017-18 season Wednesday, Nov. 29 when they travel to Kamiak to face the Knights. Tip off is at 7:15 p.m. They will play their first home game the following night when they host the Vikings from Inglemoor at Lynnwood High School beginning at 7:15 p.m.

–Story and photos by Scott Williams

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