Coach Pyrtek

The Lady Falcon basketball team plans to better last year's 12-11 record. How?

"We''ll create a standard of success," Coach John Pyrtek said.

Talking the day after the team overwhelmingly beat Coupeville 90-19 (see sidebar story) it was easy to accept Pyrtek's prediction.

He was honest to admit the road ahead will get rough.

"We'll struggle down the road, but not last night," Pyrtek said. "It was an outstanding success and I'm very proud."

Not too content to let the girls take it easy. Pyrtek broke off his pre-season interview several times to ensure work-ups were in progress.

This is the coach's second year at the helm. Pyrtek was three years at the middle school after moving to South Whidbey from Vermont. The basis of his coaching philosophy is to forge a solid connection with each member of the team.

"I love being around young people and making them feel good about themselves and basketball," he said.

The 10 varsity players -- co-captains Caitie Newman and Jessi Eaton, Amanda LaVassar, Marcela Litwiller, Lindsey Newman, Katie Lint, Britta Madison, Erica Johnson, Lauren Sandri and Janelle Iversen -- have played together for years and it shows.

There was concern Madison would be sidelined by an injury to her foot, but that worry has faded.

"She showed up on the second day, asking to be the number six player," Pyrtek said. "This lets us ratchet up the intensity to another level."

The team played last summer in Seattle's Metro League, giving them a taste of the gritty realities of urban-style hoops. And any play against intensely competitive teams could bode well for the Falcons' future this year.

"There's a bit of shifting going on in the Cascade Conference that will make our schedule extremely successful," the coach noted. For him, the key is to ensure quality non-conference games that will be a challenge and help prepare them for league and post-season playoffs.

For example, the girls are in Ellensburg today, a team that made it to state finals. King's is a defending 2A champion and Cedarcrest is always tough.

"Shorecrest bumped us out of districts last year, largely due to their star forward Mary Tseng," Pyrtek said. "It'll be a challenging year and I wouldn't have it any other way."

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