1. New faces
There are a slew of new faces in the league, and even some old faces at new schools. How all of these players gel with their new teams could go a long way in deciding playoff spots.
Kamiakin features sisters Tabitha Wellsandt and Maysun Wellsandt, 5-foot-11 transfers from Coeur d’Alene. The junior and freshman are already playing big minutes for the Braves.
Chiawana welcomes post Kendra Winchester from Shadle Park, who averaged more than 10 points per game in the Greater Spokane League a year ago.
Pasco High added Sierra Perez from Chiawana and Liddy Valle from Hermiston. Both figure to make an instant impact for the Bulldogs.
While the Class 4A teams will send two teams to the state regionals, the Class 3A teams will get three through this year.
Last season, only two advanced, which could be big for Hanford, Southridge, Kamiakin and Kennewick.
Staying healthy is always key to a good season, and that is no different this year in the Mid-Col.
Kamiakin has already been beset by injuries, losing star Sira Toure for a length of time, as well as senior post Amanda Miller. The Braves opened the season ranked No. 2 in the state in The Seattle Times’ poll, but because of the injuries and lack of depth, Kamiakin already has four losses.
The play of the Wellsandt sisters as well as Holly Ellison and Lindsey Schauble have been bright spots so far for Kamiakin.
As the Braves get healthy, though, expect them to be a force as they have been the last four seasons.
Is this the year that Walla Walla will finally be able to unseat Chiawana as the main player in 4A hoops?
The Blue Devils are loaded with experience, but it was an extremely young group last year. Now, Madi Doepker, Mikayla and Kate Ferenz and Jaden Hodnefield are all a year older and a year wiser.
While they don’t have the pure scoring the Riverhawks do in Delaney and Braydey Hodgins, the Blue Devils are still very skilled and will be a team to be reckoned with.
Richland is also a year older and a year better. Post Hailey Turner and point guard Kennedy Corrigan have been stalwarts for the Bombers in recent years, and Kayla Catone has also come into her own so far this season. Add in youngsters Ally Perry and Kamri Von Oelhoffen, and the Bombers are certainly eyeing the playoffs.
Pasco is also much better and thanks to a talented younger group, the Bulldogs figure to have a shot at a playoff spot.
In the 3A ranks, everyone expected Kamiakin to run away with the top spot, but until the Braves get healthy that is unlikely.
Hanford has looked very strong in the early going, led by senior post Colette Gall and wing Sydney Shintaffer. Add in the strong play of Ashley Stewart and the Falcons will again be in contention for a state berth.
Southridge has opened some eyes so far as well, as big-time scorer Shyler Sullivan has had multiple games with at least 20 points. The Suns narrowly lost to Hanford earlier this season and will be in the mix for a state berth.
Kennewick lost a lot off of last season’s squad, especially post Panisesi Taimani. The Lions have struggled in the early going, but head coach Oliver Browning is too good to not have Kennewick in contention by the end of the season.
1. Class 4A playoffs
The CBBN picked up an extra Class 4A playoff berth this season, while the 2A CWAC lost a spot.
Moses Lake is the clear favorite in the CBBN with Davis right beside them, though some early season results have some scratching their heads.
The Lions defeated Chiawana by four, while Chiawana beat Davis by 49. Davis then beat Moses Lake. Makes sense, eh?
The top two teams from the CBBN will advance to the state tournament.
2. Class 2A playoffs
In the CWAC, the league only gets three spots into the tournament after having four a year ago.
West Valley and Ellensburg appear to be the teams to beat in the early going. East Valley and Grandview also will be in the hunt.
3. Wild card
Sunnyside continues to roll along as the lone 3A team in the CBBN and will play in the Eastern Washington regional tournament.
The Grizzlies will either play the Mid-Col’s No. 4 seed in a play-in game, or earn one of the automatic bid top three seeds. It all depends on where the Grizzlies’ league winning percentage would place them in the Mid-Columbia Conference.
Sunnyside appears to have a great shot at the top seed, as the Grizzlies feature star power in Jordan Rodriguez and Natalie Bazan.
4. Rebuilding year
Prosser and Othello have both struggled out of the gate, though both teams have been competitive.
The CWAC is a grueling 18-game season and can chew up the best of teams, so it will be interesting to see what adjustments the Mustangs and Huskies can make as the season goes along.
5. High scoring
Offenses appear to be better so far this season, as CWAC teams have topped the 60-point plateau 12 times already.
Not sure if that is just early season issues for the defenses, or if there is a trend there.
The league continues to get four spots into the District 5 tournament, who will go, though, is up in the air.
Columbia (Burbank) and River View appear to be the teams to beat, while Connell will surely be in the hunt and Kiona-Benton should make the playoffs.
2. A long way from home
If you’ve seen River View play this season, or just read the boxscores, you may be wondering just who Ainhoa Portos is.
Portos, a 5-foot-11 wing who can do just about everything, is a foreign exchange student from Spain. Not a bad get for the Panthers.
3. Top heavy
The league is a bit top heavy this year, though Warden, Royal and Wahluke all have players good enough to lift their teams to an upset or two.
Flor Araujo for the Knights, Lili Ramirez for the Warriors and Brylee Whitney for the Cougars can all fill it up. They will need some help, though, if any of these three squads hope to make the postseason.
Kiona-Benton has been at or near the top of the league the last few years, but the Bears lost a lot of talent to graduation including star Bailey Schroeder.
Monica Calzadillas and Sabrina Acevedo have stepped right in, though, to give Kiona-Benton scoring and rebounding.
5. Top teams
With its league win over Connell in hand, Columbia (Burbank) looks to be the favorite to bring home the title. Led by Julie Mosqueda, Rachel Roberts and Tasha Idler, the Coyotes are sure to give plenty of teams fits.
With Brittany Vickerman, Jessica Hawkins, Kylie Booker and Shelby English, Connell seems to be the team to beat yet again.
River View has the aforementioned exchange student to go along with Katie Wilhelm and Makenzie Smith.