SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth University women's basketball team will be quicker, more athletic and perimeter-oriented in 2017-18. Head coach Helen Higgs believes that combination will translate into more victories as well.
"The team will be able to create more scoring opportunities for one another and overall we will be able to shoot better," said Higgs, who is 351-238 heading into her 24th season leading the Pirates.
Three seniors will set the tone for the team this season, and three first-year players will provide much of the energy as the squad moves forward.
"Grace provides calm intensity and is service-oriented, while Erika has that fire and extroverted nature that gets her teammates moving," Higgs said of her two senior guards. "Chloe is just chill, peaceful and really wants to help out the young players."
Aguinaldo gets an opportunity to contribute as a starter right away. She has taken over as the starting point guard and played well in the Pirates' exhibitions and scrimmages.
"Camy has great energy, court-sense and basketball I.Q.," Higgs said. "She is a main reason we will be able to push the pace a little more this year."
Douglas returns to her position as starting shooting guard. She earned honorable mention All-Northwest Conference recognition in 2017 after averaging 12.9 points per game and making nearly 40% of her three-pointers.
Madison Moffat returns as the starting wing. She was also honorable mention All-NWC in 2017 when she averaged 11.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per contest.
Kuehn will be the primary substitute for both Douglas and Moffat. She averaged 7.2 points per game a season ago.
Alyse Jackson, one of the first-year Pirates, will also get opportunities to fill in at shooting guard and wing. She led Mead High School in three-point shooting as a junior and senior.
Alli Kieckbusch, a junior, will get the opportunity to start at power forward. Though only 5-7, Kieckbush has the strength and temperament to battle larger players, according to Higgs. She appeared in 21 games for Whitworth last season.
Sophomore Lexi Tinney will get minutes backing up Kieckbusch. She played in 22 games as a first-year Pirate and averaged 2.3 points. She could also see time as a wing.
Annie Estes is a player much in the mold of Kieckbusch, standing 5-7 and capable of holding her own against taller players.
Quinnett shared time as Whitworth's starting post in 2016-17 and she was limited to only 17 games due to injuries. She averaged 4.4 points and 6.3 rebounds and led the Pirates with 22 blocked shots. Quinnett's game also allows her to slide over and play power forward.
Madison Abbott, a 5-11 first-year Pirate, earned a state championship at Davenport High School in 2017 and just knows how to win, according to Higgs. She will be Quinnett's primary back up this season.
Walk on first-year Sierra Jackson, from Elk, Washington, gives Higgs plenty of depth in the post.
Whitworth will open the season this coming weekend when the Pirates host the Ramada at Spokane Airport Whit Classic on Friday and Saturday. Whitworth will play Whittier at 6:00 pm on Friday, then hosts LaVerne at 4:00 pm on Saturday. NWC-member Whitman College is the fourth team in the event.