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Lakewood girls hope to surprise this year
LAKEWOOD — There are several routes to success in Cascade Conference girls basketball.
The easiest is to bring back a lot of starters. Lakewood did this last season, returning five seniors and a couple of juniors with significant playing time. The girls rode that train all the way to an automatic berth to the district tournament and a run through the playoffs.
This year, the roster is shorter on experience. But the team is hoping to take advantage of another path to success — the secret weapon.
Lakewood brings back three players with substantial varsity time last season and names like Anna Work and Jocelyn Shafer are familiar to rival league coaches. What they might not be ready for is junior Maria Wiederkehr. As a sophomore, the forward saw a few minutes off the bench in most games.
But though she doesn’t play club ball, she lifted in the offseason, worked with the Emerald City club coach and trained with older brother Anthony, who played for the Lakewood boys team and is in his third year at Western Washington University.
Lakewood coach Chris Walster counts her speed as an asset.
However, the team will also depend heavily on returning players like Work and sisters Jillian and Jocelyn Shafer. Work comes back for her senior season after leading the team in scoring last year as a junior. The guard has the ability to shoot from anywhere on the court, effective from three-point range but also able to get inside and score from the post. Sophomore Kayley Mizell, who saw some varsity time after swinging between varsity and JV as a freshman, could also be a contributor this season.
The league is shaping up to be tough this year — for one, the Archbishop Murphy team that went undefeated through conference play is expected to return all but one player from that squad — but the team hopes to benefit from lowered expectations.
“I have no doubt we’ll be picked (to finish) somewhere near the bottom,” Walster said of the girls’ standing in rivals’ eyes. “I hope we can sneak up on people and people will take us for granted.”