Tulalip Heritage has soaring expectations

Senior guard Keith Davis practices quick, aggressive defense in a sliding drill. Davis and six other returning seniors have locals excited about this season. - Travis Sherer
Senior guard Keith Davis practices quick, aggressive defense in a sliding drill. Davis and six other returning seniors have locals excited about this season.
— image credit: Travis Sherer

TULALIP — First-year head coach Matt Tait knows he has a tough balancing act this season.

The conservative coach who preaches the need to value each shot and each possession has been brought in to coach a Tulalip Heritage team that has thrived on athleticism and a fast-break offense.

“I can really appreciate that style,” he said. “And it’s easy to see that (improvisation on offense) is what they are comfortable with, so we’ll have to find some sort of way to run both of those.”

Returning seven seniors from a team that finished No. 4 in last year’s Class 1B state tournament will provide ample talent to win no matter where that balance lies.

“Our goal is to make it back to the state tournament,” Tait said, while relaying a feeling that the returning players felt that they were as good as any team at the Yakima SunDome last season. “They went through a lot at the end of the season and really showed a lot playing well through adversity on and off the court.”

With a coach dismissal halfway through last season, Tait — a tribal member who was an assistant at Marysville-Pilchuck — offers the promise of stability for both this season and years to come.

The trio of James WhiteBear, Shawn Comenote and Keith Davis are the Hawks’ top options on the court.

“We’re expecting a lot in terms of leadership on and off the court from those three,” Tait said. “They’re going to set the tone for us.”

WhiteBear, the team’s post standing at 6”1’, exemplifies the fast-paced capability of Heritage.

“We’re not very tall so we’ve got to get out and be aggressive,” Tait said. “We’ll work on being physical on the defensive end and taking advantage of the mistakes that come out of it.”

Comenote, the team’s floor general, plays with the calming influence needed to switch tempos when advantageous.

And Davis, who, at most of the time this season will be the quickest player on the court, will provide the highlights and remind Heritage fans of last year’s scoring threat Lesjar McKinney, using his quick shot and slashing ability to attack the basket.

Other seniors David Reedy, Deion Hatch, Robby Kublic and Eagle Bear Jones will be looking to earn playing time.

Of course the games to watch during the regular season will be against Lummi. Locals say that there won’t be an empty seat — or a place to stand — in the house both times the Blackhawks come to town, with the first being Dec. 18. Also providing a challenge in the Northwest 1B conference will be Lopez and North Sound Christian.

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