NASELLE — Nearly everyone returns from a Comet team that finished second to Taholah at Districts last year.
The Comets will bring back their back-court stars Antonio Nolan and Donny Edwards once Nolan returns from a knee injury suffered in their final football game. Virtually the entire supporting cast also returns, and the Comets add talented freshman Kolby Glenn. The Chitwhins return star Zach Cain but graduate their other four starters. Moving from the Coastal to the Columbia Valley League means the Comets eliminate some pushovers from their schedule, but also that they don’t get a shot at Taholah until the District playoffs. However, Naselle has put together a strong non-league schedule, including Toutle Lake, Wahkiakum, Willapa Valley, Knappa and Winlock.
Nolan, expected to be out the first couple of weeks with his knee injury, came over last season from Montesano, took over at point guard, and led the Comets in scoring at 14.6 points per game as a sophomore. Few 1B teams can keep him from getting to the basket, where he has the strength to score through contact. Edwards also excels creating shots for himself and others, averaging 12.4 points per game last season. Corey Gregory showed a knack for getting open as a freshman last season and got scorching hot in several games, including a 14-point quarter against Willapa Valley. Cole Dorman, who started last year until a late-season injury, is also an outside shooting threat.
Glenn is a natural-born point guard, always ready to seize the initiative on offense. Teammates regard him as someone who can contribute from day one; coach Brian Macy sees him as in the running to start. “His basketball skill level is very good,” Macy said. “He shoots, handles and passes well. He plays (youth basketball) all the time. That’s where his confidence comes from; he’s not afraid.”
Look for good things from Ethan Lindstrom, whose athletic stock is on the rise. He came on strong late in last year’s basketball season, including a 15-point second half against Taholah when two Comet starters were out. Lindstrom assumed increasing prominence in football this year, standing out against elite competition in the season-ending loss to Almira-Coulee-Hartline.
“[Ethan] is a slasher,” Macy said. “He’s developed as an athlete. He played well last year, he just had guys in front of him. This year I see more playing time for him. I can see him getting more confident, and smoother.”
Ian Fontanilla is quick, with a nice crossover. He sees his jump shot improving and hopes to put everything together as an upperclassman.
Jacob Eaton improved as a rebounder and post player throughout the year last season, making the Comets more balanced on offense. He can also stretch his defender out near the perimeter with his shooting range. Erik Lund was third-team All Coastal-League last season. Macy considers Dorman an option on the interior as well as at shooting guard.
The Comets will look to ride out the first few weeks without their top scorer, which will leave a lot of playing time for Glenn and others to emerge.
“We have a lot of point guards,” Lindstrom said. “We’ll all have to step up. Nolan is a good ball handler, but that’s a role we’ll all be able to fill. In a way, we were lucky; if it were Erik Lund that was out, we wouldn’t really have anybody to replace him inside.”
“We’re still a perimeter team,” Macy said. “Our strength is quick, up-and-down, up tempo play. We’ll be playing pressure defense.”
The Comets beat last year’s Columbia Valley League champion, Columbia Adventist, 62-50 at Districts. Also at Districts, they blew out another CVL opponent, Three Rivers Christian. The Comets and Chitwhins are probably the teams to beat at Districts this year. The Comets the more proven talent of the two teams, and also has considerable upside potential.