SPSCC women look to build solid foundation

South Puget Sound women’s basketball coach Michael Heuer knows the 2012-13 campaign will be a puzzle, but he likes the pieces he has to work with.

Gone from last year’s squad are four starters, including the top scorer and rebounder.

“It’s almost like we are starting from scratch, but we have been working hard and they are a tough team mentally,” Heuer said.

He will be looking to sophomores Renee Willey, Mckenzie Raben and Sarah Houchen for leadership when the Clippers open the season Nov. 24 against Northwest Indian College in Bellingham.

Willey, a 6-1 post from North Mason High School, is expected to be a key weapon in the paint for SPSCC this year.

“We will be looking for a double-double from her this year. She should be a bigger force,” Heuer said.

The Clippers will also be looking for scoring out of Raben, who won’t be eligible until mid-December. Heuer describes Houchen, a 5-9 guard from Palmer, Alaska, as his “super-sub” who can play four out of five positions on the floor.

The lack of experience opens the door for plenty of opportunities for this year’s freshman.

High on that list is LaKeisha Anger, a 5-foot-10 guard from Tumwater who is expected to play a key role early on. Anger helped the Thunderbirds to a fourth place state tournament finish in 2011.

Kami Owens, a 6-0 guard from Timberline, will also provide versatility for the Cippers while Stysha Paoa will likely be the team’s starting point guard when she becomes eligible to play in December.

Heuer was also able to add Napavine product Stephanee Stedham to the roster after the two met during an open house event in the SUB earlier this quarter.

In all, the Clippers will have three players – Raben, Paoa and Kaneetah Pridgen – ineligible to play for the first four or five games of the season. That leaves just six available players when the season starts.

Heuer said he had four recruits back out of their scholarships at the last minute and didn’t have time to find other players to fill the spots.

“We are really working on conditioning right now to get through those early games,” he said. “This team has the best basketball IQ I have had in my three years here.”

Heuer said Centralia, Highline and Pierce will be the teams to beat in the West Division this season.

“I would be disappointed if we weren’t .500 this year. We need to give it 100 percent and execute. We can build a foundation if we play smart,” he said.