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New Whitworth women’s coach inherits plenty of veteran talent; North Idaho, CCS confident heading into NWAC campaign

New Whitworth head women's basketball coach Joial Griffith was previously an assistant coach at Williams College. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
New Whitworth head women's basketball coach Joial Griffith was previously an assistant coach at Williams College. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

First-year Whitworth head coach Joial Griffith inherited a wealth of experience.

Now Griffith, a former assistant at Williams College who took over for the retired Helen Higgs, is tasked with getting the Pirates to the top of the Northwest Conference.

Whitworth returns three starters and its entire bench from last year’s 10-15 squad, including sophomore guard Camy Aguinaldo, the NWC’s Freshman of the Year.

Aguinaldo, also a second-team All-NWC selection, looks to build off of her stat-stuffing averages of 15.3 points, 5.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds.

Double-double machine Madison Moffat (12.4 ppg, 10.3 rpg) also returns after earning All-NWC recognition last season, along with fellow returning starter Alli Kieckbusch (8.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg).

Lexi Tinney, Annie Estes, Shannon Tran and Madison Abbott combined to average 14 points off the bench last season.

Whitworth had little depth inside last season, but returns the 5-foot-11 Abbott, an ex-Davenport star, and former Northwest Christian standout forward Courtney Gray, a big contributor inside two years ago who sat out with a knee injury last season and is expected to boost the Pirates.

Abbott’s younger sister, freshman guard Sydney Abbott, is also on the team. Former Mt. Spokane standout Jordan Smith is back home after transferring from NAIA Corban University in Salem, Oregon.

Tenth-ranked George Fox is expected to win the conference.

New-look North Idaho

A sophomore-heavy roster helped the North Idaho College women get ranked as high as No. 3 in the NWAC poll last season.

Now longtime NIC head coach Chris Carlson is working with a fresh deck of Cards.

The Cardinals return just one player from their 19-win, NWAC tournament-qualifying team in guard Zosha Krupa (5 ppg), a Sitka, Alaska, product who started 16 games.

However, Krupa won’t be the only experienced player on the floor for NIC when it opens its season Nov. 16 at Mesa Community College. Sophomore Heidi Sellman, a transfer from Ridgewater College, is expected to help the Cardinals inside.

Sellman, a 5-foot-11 forward from Minnesota, averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds a game at her former junior college.

NIC also expects big production from former Lake City standouts Keara Simpson, a 6-foot post, and Halle Eborall, a 5-foot-6 guard.

CCS returns key pieces

By the time the Community Colleges of Spokane women’s basketball team was in the home stretch of its East Region schedule last season, it was one of the youngest teams, with the thinnest benches, in the NWAC.

The Sasquatch still finished 14-13, but missed the NWAC tournament.

With the return of four starters, most of its reserves and some key additions, CCS now has the appearance of a deep and dangerous squad.

All-East Region wing Jessica Olson (17.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg) returns for the Sasquatch, a team 31st-year head coach Bruce Johnson said can do a little bit of everything.

“We can play small and big,” Johnson said. “And our depth is way better, so we’ll have the energy to press more.”

Former Republic star Shania Graham (12 ppg) returns at guard and 6-foot-1 Rose Mongoyak (13 ppg, 5.5 rpg) is back inside. Marissa Blair, a 5-foot-10 wing, also returns after averaging 8.8 points.

Johnson said he likes what he sees in former Lapwai star Koyama Young, a guard who signed with North Idaho last season, and Ephrata product Katelyn Ostrowski.


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