KENNEWICK — Ask any coach in the CBBN 3A, and they'll say the Braves are the favorite to win the league on paper.
That doesn't mean much to coach Brian Meneely. What matters to him is bringing it every single day.
"As a competitor, why wouldn't you want to be everybody's target team?" Meneely said. "Nobody puts more pressure on us than ourselves. But (rather than) get wrapped up in winning, we want to play to our potential every night. That's what will determine our success this season."
Kamiakin is loaded at the guard spot with as many as five players in the backcourt who can fill it up on any one night. Case Rada (14.1 points) led the Braves in scoring last season, but it was Tyler Holle (13.3) who shined brightest at the 3A Regional tournament.
Forward Justin Pedley (13.5) was one of the league's best surprises last year.
Meneely is looking forward to seeing what 3-point specialist Riley Hayfield can do after opening up his game in the offseason.
"He's become more of a complete basketball player," Meneely said. "He's been a tremendous leader the first three weeks."
Southridge stayed in contention for the Columbia Division title last season but fell short in the end. The Suns return with a strong desire to finish what they started.
They'll do it behind a pair of all-Columbia players in guard Matt Mendenhall (13.4) and forward Derek Porter (14.9). Mendenhall flashed plenty of potential last season but will be expected to provide even more leadership this year.
Southridge coach Jason DeVere is a big proponent of the inside-outside game, and he'll have a pair of big 6-6 targets inside in Porter and Brad Scott, who will both share the floor at times.
"But you've got to use (height) for good and not evil," DeVere quipped. "There's an expectation of getting them into the right positions on the defensive and offensive end."
Sunnyside made a strong push toward the end of last year, finishing second to Davis in the Columbia Division and then beating West Valley for the 3A district crown. But the Grizzlies fell short at regionals, going 0-2.
This year, Sunnyside is back with one of the league's top scoring guards -- junior Israel Manzo (14.1) -- and senior forward Andrew Daley.
Hanford graduated its top scorer in Pete Zachara but returns senior guard Cam Wagar, who missed last season with a knee injury.
Falcons coach Paul Mayer expects Wagar to be an integral part of the team. He'll share the backcourt with point guard Jalen DeVine, who made a strong impression by starting as a freshman.
Hanford has good size inside between 6-5 posts Kurt Rueter and Cody Quinton, but forward Aaron Neary might be the hardest worker in the CBBN underneath the boards.
"Aaron is going to be the leader when he's back (from injury in another week)," Mayer said. "We've been hit a little by injuries, but you don't want to make excuses."
Eastmont will have a tough time replacing Malachi Roberts -- the CBBN's leading scorer last year -- but guard Darren Spaeth (10.5) is a good start. The Wildcats also have some good size up front led by senior post Jacob Sauileone.
Kennewick won't have guard Drew Loftus, who stepped back from basketball to focus on baseball, but coach Bradyn Leyde believes the Lions will be fine with a backcourt of Reggie Clinton and Bryce Leavitt.
Clinton, who was named to the Columbia Division all-defensive team last year, could create a lot of problems with his quickness and reflexes.
"He definitely brings an attitude and a toughness that feeds our team," Leyde said.
At Pasco, Charlie Villanueva is an institution, having coached as an assistant for the last 18 seasons. Finally, the gig is his, and he's looking forward to doing a lot of running this season.
"Last year we were more of a walk-up-the-floor team and all this sagging zone stuff," he said. "This year we're going to be an in-your-face defensive team."
Senior guard Brandon Search, a second-team all-Columbia pick last year, is one of the best athletes in the league, and Villanueva thinks good things are ahead for guards Zach Mendoza and Ivan Vera.
West Valley has been hit hard by injuries, but they return point guard Tyler Cluff, who emerged as a consistent point guard last year.
Predicted order of finish
8) West Valley
Coach: Mike Waters (6th year).
Last state trip: 2008.
Returning players: F Darren Spaeth, sr., 6-2; G Grady Gausman, sr., 6-2; F Ian Sagdal, sr., 6-2.
Stepping up: F Kevin Fagg, soph., 6-2; P Austin Flemens, jr., 6-5; P Cody Huguenin, soph., 6-4; G J.J. Jahr, soph., 6-0; G Dallin McDonnell, soph., 6-2; P Jacob Sauileone, sr., 6-4; G Trea Thomas, soph., 5-10.
Coach: Paul Mayer (16th year).
Last state trip: 2005.
Returning players: G Jalen DeVine, soph., 5-10; G Marcus Nash, sr., 6-0; F Aaron Neary, sr., 6-3; P Kurt Rueter, sr., 6-5; G Cam Wagar, sr., 5-11.
Stepping up: G Bear Braich, jr., 6-1; F Joe Douglas, soph., 6-3; G Mike Funk, jr., 6-1; G Pete Hanson, jr., 6-1; G/F Matt Jones, soph., 6-2; F Cody Quinton, jr., 6-5; G Shawn Stallings, fr., 5-10.
Coach: Brian Meneely (5th year).
Last state trip: 2000.
Returning players: F Garrett Anderson, sr., 6-4; F Zach En'Wezoh, jr., 6-6; G Shad Fletcher, sr., 5-11; G Riley Hayfield, sr., 5-11; G Tyler Holle, sr., 6-2; F Joe Hunt, jr., 6-2; F Justin Pedley, jr., 6-5; G Case Rada, sr., 6-2; G Cody Wilmoth, jr., 5-10.
Stepping up: G Cooper Clyde, soph., 6-0; F Alex Quinn, jr., 6-5; G Max Shoop, jr., 6-0; G/F Javan Williams, soph., 6-1.
Coach: Bradyn Leyde (3rd year).
Last state trip: 1989.
Returning players: G Reggie Clinton, jr., 6-1; F Domach Domach, jr., 6-3; G Bryce Leavitt, jr., 6-4; G Luiz Santiago, jr., 5-9; F James Sordahl, sr., 6-2.
Stepping up:F Joel McKenzie, sr., 6-2; F Stetson Plew, jr., 6-5; G Brandon Pocasangre, jr., 5-8; G Devven Ramos, soph., 6-0; F Shaun Smith, jr., 5-10.
Coach: Charlie Villanueva (first year).
Last state trip: 2007.
Returning players: P Brandon Search, sr., 6-1; G Zach Mendoza, jr., 5-8.
Stepping up: G Brian Arroyo, soph., 5-8; F Zach Burrell, ,sr., 6-1; F Devonte Cleveland, sr., 5-11; G Jacob Coleman, sr., 5-11; G Julian Figueroa, soph., 6-0; G Brandon Mendoza, fr., 5-8; G Luis Murillo, soph., 5-8; F Sam Wright, sr., 6-3; F Ivan Vera, sr., 6-0.
Coach: Jason DeVere (7th year).
Last state trip: 2007.
Returning players: G Dallas Jones, sr., 6-0; G Matt Mendenhall, jr., 6-3; G Dallin Palmer, sr., 5-10; F Derek Porter, sr., 6-6; P, Brad Scott, jr., 6-6.
Stepping up: F Andrew Keefe, sr., 6-2; G Austin Molt, soph., 6-1; F Garrett Willard, jr., 6-2.
Coach: Ron Rowe (3nd year).
Last state trip: 1990.
Returning players: F Andrew Daley, sr., 6-0; G Israel Manzo, jr., 5-7; G Jessie Leijia, jr., 5-11.
Stepping up: F Eric Amaro, soph., 6-2; F Miguel Barrios, sr., 6-2; G/F Brandon Daley, soph., 6-1; G/F Oscar Medina, jr., 6-2; G Eduardo Salmeron, soph, 6-0; F Rafael Salmeron, sr., 6-0; G Trey Seri, soph., 5-8; P Greg Spini, soph., 6-6; F Kyle Zamora, sr., 5-10.
West Valley Rams
Coach: Jon Kinloch (first year).
Last state trip: 2008.
Returning players: G Tyler Cluff, soph., 5-9; F Jason Dresker, jr., 6-4; W Austin Strock, soph., 6-4.
Stepping up: G Ryan Gilliam, jr., 6-0; F Austin Hunter, sr., 6-2; G Lorenzo Juarez, soph., 5-9; F Steven Mollett, soph., 6-2; W Jalen Peake, soph., 6-3; G Francisco Robles, sr., 5-9; F Tanner Shurtliff, jr., 6-3; G Danny Tafolla, sr., 5-9; G Luke Wallace, jr., 5-11.