The Spartans have more questions than answers for their boys basketball team.
“For the first time in a handful of years, we don’t really return a dominant player,” head coach Zach Ward said. “But it creates a lot of opportunities. It’s exciting. Someone is going to step up.”
And Ward has a stable full of talented athletes ready to break loose.
“We have a lot of kids with a lot of skill,” Ward said. “Now, they just have to get out there and compete in crucial minutes, then I’ll have a sense of what works and what doesn’t.”
Stanwood opens its season with three nonconference games — three chances to hone their identity before league play starts.
“We’re more of a versatile team,” senior Cam Everett said. “We’ve got two lock down shooters — Jake (Cleary) and Cort (Roberson) — that the opponents will key on so that puts a lot of pressure on our bigs to produce.”
The previous two Spartan seasons each featured a dominant presence in the paint — Matt Vail in 2017-18 and Mitch Jones in 2018-19. Now, the job could fall to the 6-foot-4 Everett.
“We’re going to draw some stuff up to get Cam the ball,” Ward said. “He had a great summer. I think he may surprise people just because people don't know about him.”
Everett — and much of the rest of the team — played together in the offseason, hoping to build off of last year’s season that ended in the regional round of the state tournament.
“We have played with each other for a long time, and everyone knows each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Everett said. “And the chemistry has continued to grow a lot.”
Senior Jack Oldow said the recent focus has turned toward defense.
“We have the athleticism, but we have to focus,” the guard said. “It’s kind of like last year: everyone doubted us, but it turned out OK. We’ll have to do that again, but we need guys to step up and make plays and find their role.”
The roster depth will allow some early season tinkering for coach Ward — including using more man defense, for example — and create opportunity for players to claim minutes down the road.
“I’m excited to see how we matchup on defense,” Ward said. “We have some length and some quick, smart guards that can lock down.”
“If we can produce on defense, that will help,” he said. “We need to be aggressive, play with a lot of passion, get down on the ground and fight for the ball … and try to make a deep playoff run.”
Stanwood boys at a glance
- Head coach: Zach Ward, 13th season
- Last Season: 16-7 overall, 9-4 league. Advanced to regional round of state tournament.
- Returners: Cort Roberson, jr; Jake Cleary, jr; Cam Everett, sr.; Jack Oldow, sr.; Darren Smith, jr.; Kaeden McGlothin, so.; Mack Hepper, so.; Connor Schlepp, jr.
- What to watch for: The Spartans return 10 of 12 varsity players from last year’s squad, but Stanwood will look to replace graduated senior Mitch Jones. “We graduated a decent chunk of points and rebounds, so there is no doubt we will need some boys to step up and take on a larger role in those two areas,” head coach Zach Ward said. “I'm excited about this group.” The speedy, athletic group will look to push the ball and rely on solid shooting. Ward said that improving defense has been a point of emphasis during the offseason. “There are some opportunities out there for some kids to take advantage of,” he said. “We will see how it goes.” The Spartans will put their offseason work to the test early with a touch nonconference schedule, including December matchups against 2A North Kitsap (23-6 last season) and 4A South Kitsap.