A beautiful shot
Coach Rob Garrett likes his team
November 30, 2023
Wahkiakum High School Coach Rob Garrett, who ran a winning program for the girl’s basketball team for 10 years, is now turning his attention to the boys.
His excitement just might be contagious.
Twenty-five athletes have turned out for Mule basketball. Ten have earned a spot on the varsity roster, and C Squad games are being added to the books.
Six seniors and four sophomores round out the varsity team.
“It’s a good balance and it’s a cool little mix,” Garrett said. “It’s fun to have an older group and a younger group coming in behind them, eager to learn and eager to win.”
As for size, the Mules don’t have much, but luckily for them, they have a coach who knows how to make the most of what he has.
“If we can learn how to work hard and work as a team, we can make up for some of that,” Garrett said. “So far, they are doing the work hard piece. We have a lot to learn about working as a team. I’m not worried about that piece, as long as they are going to give me the energy and effort and be good teammates, that piece will come.”
Half of this year’s seniors started most of the time last season.
“The other three,” Garrett said, “don’t have a ton of varsity time, but they are definitely really big hustlers. They work super hard. They do a lot of little dirty things that sometimes other guys don’t want to do. They are all three really good rebounders, which is something we are going to struggle with this year.”
“Even though they don’t have a ton of playing time or experience, they are going to provide a lot of necessary basketball skills our team lacks,” Garrett added.
He had good words for all of them.
At 6’4”, senior Kyler Sause is the team’s tallest player.
“He’s very talented with the ball and very smart player,” Garrett said. “He understand the game extremely well. He’s going to need to learn to play more physical, but he’s definitely a great scorer, and a talented communicator.”
Sophomore Gage Robinson isn’t too far behind at 6’2”.
“He’s improved a lot, athletically speaking,” Garrett said. “I think by the end of the year, he can be pretty darn good.”
Senior Jacob Johnson is the Mules’ starting point guard, a position he has been playing for years. Garrett cited Johnson’s calmness and presence, noting that the player was extremely quick and could handle the ball.
A sophomore, Cooper Carlson, will be the team’s backup point guard.
“He does a good job controlling the ball and moving the ball up the court quickly,” Garrett said.
“Another one of his strengths is that he is very capable playing very physical defense.”
Garrett described senior Zakk Carlson as a phenomenal scorer.
“He really is a great overall athlete but he really has a nose for scoring the ball,” Garrett said.
“He has a pretty shot. He’s done a great job of buying in so far this year. I’ve been really proud of him, leadership wise. He’s been a great teammate.”
Seniors Grant Wilson, Nathan Garrett and Donovan Wilson are the hustlers, and are expected to provide a ton of energy, do the scrappy things, and rebound.
Sophomore Parker Leitz is likely to add to the score this season.
“He got an extremely quick release,” Garrett said. “He’s spent a lot of time in the gym. I think he will have a game where he hits 25-30 points this year, as a sophomore. Parker has a quick beautiful shot and can hit from anywhere.”
Another sophomore, Jayden Stoddard has a ways to go, Garrett said, but he just needs to hit the gas pedal.
“Once we get that going 100 mph, his athleticism is off the chart.,” Garrett said. “Great shot, super athletic. He’s a super coachable kid, so I have no doubt that’s going to happen.”
As for the Central 2B league, the coach says it is looking “pretty darn stacked” starting with Napavine, Adna, and Toutle Lake and three or four other teams who will be competitive.
Garrett is pleased about his coaching staff.
Marc and Tiffany Niemeyer are assistant coaches and volunteer Andrew Weiler plans to apply for the C Squad position. “Every coach brings a very different skill set and reaches different kids. Together I think we will make a great staff,” Garrett said.
“I’m having a blast,” Garrett said. “I’m really excited to coach a group of guys who are eager to learn. They want to be good, they’ve done all the things I’ve asked them, they are buying in to the program, they are working hard. It makes every night, whether it’s a game or practice, a lot of fun.”
The Mules start their season at home on Friday against Castle Rock. On Tuesday, they host Ilwaco.