Tag Archives: basketball

New head basketball coach seeks to create legacy

Jerome Jenkins, former Sacramento State University Men’s Basketball coach, was hired in June of this year, and aims to build on the existing foundation of players and staff of the men’s team at Whatcom Community College this season and beyond.

Jenkins is entering his eighteenth year of head coaching, and his twenty-eigth year of coaching in total. He started his career shortly out of college, where he played point guard, as an assistant at Eastern Washington University. Based on his acumen for recruiting talent and his relationships with the players, he was hired as an assistant at Sacramento State University.

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Women’s basketball hopes to break 4-year slump

By Keenan Gray

For the last four years, the Whatcom Community College women’s basketball team has been at the bottom of the Northwest Athletic Conference, compiling an overall record of 32-80, with 18 conference wins.

Anthony Slater was hired this year as the team’s new head coach. Slater has already made an impact on the program, because of his prior experience in coaching. This has led multiple high school athletes to play at the collegiate level.

Slater has been coaching competitive basketball for the last seven years, starting with his own club basketball team, Washington Elite.  Most recently he worked as an assistant coach at Lane Community College in Oregon. When he heard there was an opening at Whatcom, he said he “couldn’t pass this up.”

“I had the opportunity to coach at the collegiate level at Lane as an assistant for two years,” said Slater. “When I heard there was an opening at Whatcom Community College for the women’s team, I decided to make that jump and it is probably the best decision I have made in my college coaching career.”

The women’s team had dropped its first two games of the season in exhibition play. They have won their last eight of 10 games going into their first conference game against Olympic College, which they lost 55-51 at Whatcom Pavilion, Wednesday Jan. 9.

Slater’s style of play is up-tempo and what some could consider a “run-and-gun” type of basketball. This include lots of shots taken and quick defensive possessions.

Gabrielle Edison, No. 21, looks to pass to Elisa Kooiman, No. 35, during a Jan. 9 game against Olympic College.
Gabrielle Edison, No. 21, looks to pass to Elisa Kooiman, No. 35, during a Jan. 9 game against Olympic College.

“I coach how I played,” he said. “For many years I played at such a fast pace, and when you look around this conference, all the teams that are successful play up-tempo basketball. I would try to utilize the resources we had on the court and put it all into one bowl. I think tempo basketball is the only way we can play.”

Statistically the team leads the conference in defensive and total rebounds, and field goals attempted per game. They are also second in the conference in points per game, and third in other multiple categories.

Sophomores Allison Hadaway and Elisa Kooiman, are two players on the team who have helped the Orcas this season on the offensive and defensive sides. Both Hadaway and Kooiman are fourth and fifth in the conference in scoring with 20.7 and 19.5 points per game.

According to Slater, both Kooiman and Hadaway’s energy and enthusiasm, coupled with their statistics, “is a big reason for the success they are having so far.”

“These two bring leadership. Besides all the scoring they do, they bring their toughness and are mentally in the game. That’s a coach’s dream, to be able to have two dynamic players on the floor, who can flat-out score in and out of the paint and defend, too. But more so, it’s the leadership they bring to the young players on this team.”

Kooiman, a transfer student from Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, has returned to Whatcom County this season after having been in Idaho for a year with the Nighthawks as a bench player. Kooiman graduated from Lynden High School in 2017 and was All-Northwest Conference and State selection and a state champion for the Lions.

“I am overall happy with my decision to come back home,” said Kooiman. “Playing here at Whatcom, I have been having a lot of fun and I’ve gained back a lot of confidence that I lost a little bit last year.”

However, Kooiman said her time at Northwest Nazarene “has not only made me a better player, but an even better teammate and person.”

The women’s team is full of familiar faces with whom Kooiman had played against in her youth and in high school. Five women on the team from Whatcom County include Gabby Edison and Carmelita Rodriguez from Ferndale, Rachel Sande from Nooksack Valley, Samantha Hruby from Sehome, and Hannah Larkin from Squalicum.

“It’s really cool to get to know them off the court, since I have played against these girls since fifth grade. I did a little bit of training with them here and there, so I did kind of know them from that, but you really don’t get to know them till you play on the same team,” she said. “They have now become some of my best friends.”

Hruby and Edison are the third and fourth leading scorers on the team, averaging 11.3 and 9.7 points per game. Edison is also second on the team in rebounding averaging 8.1 total rebounds per game.

Slater said he knows his team can do damage to other teams further along in the season because of the confidence he has built into his players heads, which he says can lead to a playoff berth and a potential conference championship.

“I think for us it is just staying together till the end,” Slater said, “We want to keep the mindset on what got us here to this point. It isn’t about individuals here, it’s about a team and togetherness. We speak family and I think it speaks value because we are successful now. So we need to continue to work hard and stay focused, and I think we can accomplish big things.”
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Men’s basketball reaches new heights

By Keenan Gray

Whatcom’s men’s basketball program is known for recruiting tall, post players from local high schools around Whatcom County.

The men’s basketball team lacked the size last season and were unable to qualify for the conference tournament, finishing fifth in the North Division with an overall record of 13-15.

Head coach Tom Rawlings, who is in his third season, decided to keep his eyes on taller post players this offseason, due to the lack of the recruits in his first couple of seasons given they weren’t taller than 6 feet, 6 inches.

“The first couple of years, we really limited the size in the paint,” said Rawlings, “so, having somebody who can not only score on the block, but rebound as well. We got three kids now who are 6’7” and 6’8” and all of them have different skill sets, which is balancing things out well for us.”

Of those three post players, Dominik Oliveri, a 6-foot, 8-inch transfer from Western Washington University, has been a big presence on the court for Whatcom, putting up 12.9 points per game and leading the Northwest Athletic Conference in rebounds per game with 13.6.

Before Oliveri came to Whatcom County, the sophomore center started his basketball career in Spokane where he attended Lewis and Clark High School and was First Team All-Greater Spokane League his senior season, averaging 11.8 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.

“I wanted to look for a best-fit program,” Oliveri said. “I already began my education at Western and I wanted to continue that, so currently I am a dual-enrollment student. Instead of going home, I came to Whatcom and I have really enjoyed playing for Coach Rawlings. I wanted to go somewhere new away from Spokane and it has been great.”

It certainly has been a great start for both Oliveri and his team as they began their season with a 5-1 record, starting off with a 156-67 blowout over Northwest Indian College. Sophomore Grant Balvanz led all scorers with 44 points and broke a Whatcom men’s basketball record, making 14 three-point shots in a single game.

Oliveri says he comes from a city where basketball is considered a religion, as nearby Gonzaga University has been a dominating powerhouse at the NCAA Division I level the last 20 years, and the world’s largest 3-on-3 street basketball tournament is hosted in downtown Spokane every summer.

“I had season tickets to Gonzaga basketball games growing up, so I was strongly influenced by a lot of players that went through GU like J.P. Batista, Rob Sacre, and all other Gonzaga ‘bigs,’” Oliveri said. “I tried to take bits and pieces from how they played and began using them.”

Following the hot start of the season, the men’s team lost to Bellevue College 104-79 before hosting the Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament at Whatcom Pavilion, in which they consequently lost three games in three days.

After the Christmas break, Whatcom began the new year with a victory over Tacoma Community College 81-76. Sophomore Trazil Lane returned to the team for the first time all season because, according to Rawlings, he was not eligible at the beginning of the season. Lane scored a game high 21 points in that victory.

Lane was Second Team All-Northern Region in the Northwest Athletic conference last season averaging 18 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game as a freshman.

This season, Lane leads the team in scoring, putting up 22 points per game, and is second in rebounds per game with 8.

“Trazil is kind of a manchild,” Rawlings said, laughing, “He is a very athletic kid and is someone who played very well last season for us, so it is nice to get him back at this time of the year.”

Other returning players this season for the men’s team are guards Donovan Sellgren and Kenneth Savo, and forward Tevin Bayne. Both Bayne and Savo come from Alaska. Also from Alaska are forward Luke Beiser and center Garrett Fitt.

This is one of the most interesting things about this team as coach Rawlings just doesn’t recruit the local flavor around Whatcom County, but is willing to go out of state to recruit some top-notch players.

“Whatcom County has had a lot of talent through the years, we have chosen to go to Alaska specifically and have gotten numerous great players,” Rawlings said. “Many teams in the NWAC like to recruit all over the country, so what we do is nothing special. I have found for us that Alaska has been a good place for us and there is a lot of tough players from there.”

Whatcom opened conference play last week at home versus Olympic College and won 92-80. Three days later, they traveled down to Everett Community College where they lost 80-75, and in their most recent conference game, they beat Bellevue 93-85 on Jan. 16.

Currently the Orcas are 8-7 overall, 2-1 in conference play and are sitting in third place in the Northwest Athletic Conference North Division, behind Everett and Edmonds Community College.

There are a total of eight sophomores on this year’s team, and some of them will continue their basketball careers at the next level, while others will focus on their academics and pursue their intended majors.

Rawlings said he has grown to like this group and believes out of the teams he has coached in three years; this team has the potential to not only clinch a playoff spot but potentially make a deep run in postseason.

“Putting an NWAC banner up in our gym has been a goal for the last three years,” Rawlings said.

“I think this team has a great chance to do that, but the reality is that junior college is here for these guys to be able to move on to next level of college basketball,” Rawlings said. “Giving them the exposure at the conference tournament, extending their season and getting college coaches to look at them from the higher levels – I think we have been successful doing that the last three years, as we have six guys who are playing at the next level.”
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Player profile: Grant Balvanz

By Keenan Gray

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As a senior in high school, Grant Balvanz began attending Whatcom Community College through the Running Start Program, with a plan of transferring to Western Washington University for a finance major, after receiving his Associates Transfer Degree.

Currently a sophomore at Whatcom, Balvanz is a guard for the men’s basketball team, and is in his final quarter.

He has received interest from Multnomah University, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school located in Portland, to play basketball next year.

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