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LC coach thinks he has the makings of another state contender

If Jim Redmon had his druthers, his Lewis and Clark girls basketball team would fly under the radar.

He laughs when he suggests as much. He understands the recognition that comes with qualifying for state eight straight years including three consecutive state championships.

A word of caution, though, to the Greater Spokane League, and the rest of the state for that matter: Redmon has the makings of his best team ever.

“This group definitely has more talent than the three state title teams,” Redmon said. “We’re definitely more offensive. We’re striving to get better defensively.”

Redmon will role out a lineup that features one signed NCAA Division I player and three other potential Division I players. And the fifth is no slouch.

Senior 6-foot wing/post Hayley Hendricksen signed early with Saint Mary’s (11.9 points per game). Then there’s a talented trio of juniors with point guard Devyn Galland, who averaged a team-leading 13.7 ppg; 6-1 wing/post Nakia Arquette (10.8); and 6-3 post Abang Taka (4.5 ppg). Her points and minutes should go up considerably this season.

The fifth starter is junior guard Julia Moravec, who was the GSL offensive most valuable player in soccer.

LC’s lineup is similar to what the GSL featured in general last year. The conference was young overall. The league’s MVP, senior Jazmine Redmon, carried Mead to the state title game. The five all-league selections return.

Gonzaga Prep, the team considered to have the best chance at challenging LC, returns its lineup intact behind senior guard Tia Presley, who has signed with Washington State University, and junior point guard Lindsay Stockton.

“Prep scares me,” Redmon said. “Prep has given us battles. They’re smaller than us and can score from a lot of different areas.”

Galland, Hendricksen and Arquette played at the highest club level possible in the summer. The rest of LC’s team also had a terrific offseason.

At least four girls, including Galland, will be in the mix for the league MVP honor. The others are Presley, junior wing Brooke Gallaway of Central Valley and junior guard Aleisha Hathaway of Shadle Park.

No team has the depth to challenge LC.

The Tigers were ranked No. 1 in the Tacoma News Tribune’s preseason rankings and second in the Seattle Times’ preseason poll.

Their string of trophies in five straight years was snapped last year. But they should start a new streak this season.

“You hate putting the target on yourself, but, honestly, with the talent we have it’s clear that we have to perform and we should perform,” Redmon said. “We had a good summer. We’ve got one kid already signed and three juniors who are all being recruited by Pac-10 schools.”

That doesn’t mean LC will overlook any team, though.

“Our league will continue to be tough,” Redmon said. “Everyone in our league has quality coaching and quality kids.”

For LC to win another state title, it must begin with what Redmon insists on before anything else.

“The emphasis will be defense first,” he said. “We want our offense to be fueled by our defense.”

If that happens, it could be another special year.

“I’m excited about the potential of the season as much as any of our years,” Redmon said. “They’re talented and they’ve worked their tails off to get ready for this season.”