By Ray Hamill — The high school girls basketball season may still be several months off, but the race for the Big 5 has already begun.
And if champions are made in the offseason, then look for players like Carly Boynton and Charlotte Carroll to have their teams in contention this winter.
“She’s worked on her game a lot this spring, and it shows,” Eureka head coach Michael Harvey said of Boynton, who was on hand for the Loggers at an offseason tournament in Brookings over the weekend. “She’s really stepped up her game.”
Boynton, who will start at center for Eureka, was one of several local players to shine at the three-day tournament, with teams from Fortuna, McKinleyville and Del Norte also on hand.
In particular, a lot will also be expected out of Fortuna center Carroll, who will be a senior next season and has also been enjoying an impressive start to the summer program.
“We have a fairly small team, but we’re pretty quick with a really solid center,” new Fortuna head coach Scott Betts said. “Charlotte’s playing really well. She pretty much kept us in the one game we lost (in Brookings).”
While Boynton was instrumental as the Loggers went undefeated in their six games despite missing a couple of starters, she wasn’t the only one to impress.
Malia Guilbert has also improved her game this offseason and looks set to play a far bigger role, while younger players like Bella Vigil, Mckenna Beach and Payton Goodman all played well over the weekend and appear ready to step up.
The Eureka JVs were also on hand in Brookings, with a squad of nine incoming freshmen and one sophomore losing just one of seven games.
“The future’s looking really bright in that respect,” said Harvey, who will be joined on the sideline by new assistants Jesse Genaro and Romeo Steele this year. “The girls played great.
“We played a lot of games and we worked on some things we wanted to work on.”
Two other seniors — guards Mackenzie Emmons and Moncerrat Bernal — each also impressed for the Huskies, and appear ready to make a big impact in 2019/20.
McKinleyville, meanwhile, traveled to the tournament with mostly younger players, although head coach Tony McClure felt it was a good experience.
“I thought we competed pretty well,” the Panthers coach said. “It was a good learning experience overall.”
In particular, Victoria Claros, who missed much of last season through injury, has been working hard this offseason and should be in line to play a bigger role as a junior.
“She’s a baller,” McClure said.
Overall, however, McClure was without many of his returning players from a team that enjoyed a breakout season last winter, returning to the league tournament and NCS playoffs.
“That’s going to have to make us work that little bit harder in the fall when we get back in the gym,” McClure said.
Many of the local teams are competing in the local summer league hosted by Eureka High through the end of the month, with the JV teams playing on Tuesdays and the varsity playing on Thursdays.