If it always seems like Davis and Richland are among the top two teams in the Columbia Basin Big Nine, you're not mistaken.
Both programs seem to be constantly loaded with talent, but it's really the system that keeps the program going and the players coming.
This year is no different.
The Pirates return three of the league's top scorers -- including David Trimble, the Columbia Division Player of the Year -- and will continue to run at breakneck pace.
"They were young and really confident last year," said Bombers coach Earl Streufert. "They went to state and competed pretty well, and they've got everybody back."
The Bombers return two-time all-league post Calvin Douglas (10.1 points), whose blend of size and athleticism makes him one of the most dangerous players on the floor.
"Last year he played with a bunch of guys who can shoot it," Streufert said. "This year there's certainly more reliance on him."
But Richland also balances the floor with strong guard play, and the Bombers have another strong group led by Colter Quick.
"(Quick) has a knack for scoring, and he's a real good defender, too," Streufert said. "He can score inside and outside. He can play in the post or run the court."
Chiawana won't be far behind. The Riverhawks fought an uphill battle in the impossibly competitive Cascade Division last season, but the Riverhawks return with maybe the best defensive team in the league.
"We're more comfortable with our depth this year. We weren't really ready last year," said Chiawana coach Chad Herron, who emphasized good free throw shooting in the offseason after his team hit just 58 percent last season.
The 'Hawks, led by guard Miquiyah Zamora and post Jordan Downing, will wear teams out with a high-octane press and score in transition.
Guard Stephen Walter provides one of the biggest matchup problems in the league, while Downing (15.4) and guard Justin Smith (15.2) are the top two returning scorers in the CBBN.
Wenatchee brings back a pair of athletic guards in Cooper Helm and Jared Jaeger, but with only one player over 6-foot-3, the Panthers could struggle against teams with size.
A team that fits that bill is Moses Lake, who brought in former Big Bend Community College coach John Hohman to help right the ship after a 3-17 season.
Led by 6-3 guard Matt Franz, the Chiefs have a front line that averages 6-4, but Hohman said that this team will go as Franz goes.
"He's changed his game," Hohman said, referring to a shoot-first mentality. "He's done a really nice job making guys better. He's got a bright future."
Eisenhower lost its coach, Pat Fitterer, who left to take the job at Ellensburg. He'll be replaced by his son-in-law, Brad Schultz.
What will hurt Ike most is losing two all-league players and natural leaders in James Lopez and Robert Bonser. But the Cadets do have six seniors -- led by forwards Cody Clayton and Tanner Urlacher -- who can help pave the way for an upcoming class.
Walla Walla also suffered a couple of painful losses in Gary Winston and Michael Weisner, who led the Blue Devils to a fourth-place finish at state last year.
"My first year here we were pretty inexperienced. We took our lumps and just got better as the season went on," said Blue Devils coach John Golden. "That's what we'll have to do here."
Senior guard Seth Alden is Wa-Hi's lone returning starter.
Predicted order of finish
5) Moses Lake
7) Walla Walla.
Coach: Chad Herron (2nd year).
Last state trip: Never.
Returning players: G/F Kyler DeWitt, sr., 6-3; F Jordan Downing, jr., 6-0; G Lucas Graff, sr., 6-0; F Coleman Knight, sr., 6-5; F Pilate Lopaya, sr., 6-3; G Justin Smith, sr., 5-10; G Stephen Walter, sr., 6-3; G/F Miquiyah Zamora, jr., 6-1.
Stepping up: G Enrique Perez, jr., 5-9; G Brett Adamson, sr., 6-0.
Coach: Eli Juarez (6th year).
Last state trip: 2010.
Returning players: F Lavonte Allen, jr., 6-4; G/F Davonte Luckett, jr., 6-2; G Marquis Jackson, sr., 5-10; G Cooper Kupp, jr., 6-0; G Markus McClurkin, sr., 5-11; G David Trimble, jr., 6-2.
Stepping up: G Michael Acosta, jr., 6-1; G/F Amaris Carter, sr., 6-2; G Chris Chapman, jr., 6-0; G Raymond Navarro, jr., 5-11; G Carlos Perea Vijarro, soph., 6-1; G Deion Wright, jr., 6-0.
Coach: Brad Schultz (first year).
Last state trip: 2009.
Returning players: F Abel Soto, sr., 6-0; F Cody Clayton, sr., 6-3; G/F Tanner Urlacher, sr., 6-3.
Stepping up: F Jacob Becker, jr., 6-2; G Casey Burns, sr., 6-2; G Kolney Cassel, soph., 6-2; F Geno Garcia, sr., 6-2; G Josh Gasseling, fr., 5-8; F Don Nickins, jr., 6-2; G Bret Oldham, fr., 5-11; G Brandin Partlow, jr., 5-11; F Paul Phin, sr., 6-2; F Andy Soto, fr., 6-2.
Moses Lake Chiefs
Coach: John Hohman (first year).
Last state trip: 1998 (3A).
Returning players: G Matt Franz, sr., 6-3; P Jordan Garcia, jr., 6-2; G Bryce Perez, jr., 6-5; G Gabe Porter, sr., 6-2.
Stepping up: F Matt Adame, sr., 6-3; G Michael Albert, jr., 6-0; F Max McDonald, sr., 6-5; F Dylan Miller, sr., 6-5; F Kyler Moats, sr., 6-3; G Cliff Phillips, jr., 6-1; G Kody Samuels, sr., 6-0.
Coach: Earl Streufert (12th year).
Last state trip: 2008.
Returning players: G Colter Quick, jr., 6-2; F Grant Gallinger, sr., 6-1; F Bob Imhoff, sr., 6-2; F Calvin Douglas, sr., 6-6.
Stepping up: G Adam Baker, jr., 6-0; G Michael Burke, sr., 5-11; G Tyler Fuller, soph., 5-9; G Mason Hilty, soph., 6-0; G Shakeem Lakes, sr., 6-1; G J.J. Patterson, sr., 6-0; G Nathan Streufert, fr., 6-2; G Tyrell Turner, jr., 6-1.
Walla Walla Blue Devils
Coach: John Golden (6th year).
Last state trip: 2010.
Returning players: G Seth Alden, sr., 5-11; G Alex Ceron, sr., 5-11; P Matt Watson, sr., 6-1.
Stepping up: P Jake Campeau, sr., 6-4; P Marshall Dunovant, sr., 6-2; G Josh Eggers, jr., 5-9; P Robert Ferenz, jr., 6-3; G Moe Handcox, jr., 5-10; G Nick Peasley, jr., 5-9; G Levi Swenson, sr., 5-9; G Kevin Toon, sr., 6-1; G Miguel Torres, soph., 5-11.
Coach: Brett McGinnis (8th year).
Last state trip: 1998.
Returning players: G Brock Fuller, jr., 6-1; G Cooper Helm, sr., 6-2; G Jared Jaeger, sr., 6-0; G Kyle Keeler, jr., 6-0; P Cass McKay, jr., 6-4.
Stepping up: G Nathan Allison, soph., 6-2; P Connor Black, jr., 6-3; G Danny Burnham, sr.,
5-9; G Corey Faulkner, sr., 5-10; G Peter Siderius, jr., 6-0; P Dillon Sugg, fr., 6-3.