Edmonds-Woodway relying on its guards to lead the way | Boys basketball

By David Pan | Aug 22, 2019
Photo by: David R Pan Edmonds-Woodway’s Ruot Deng guards a Cedar Park Christian player at Mountlake Terrace High School.

The Edmonds-Woodway boys basketball team underwent some major changes both on the court and on the sidelines this offseason.

The Warriors graduated four seniors, so coach Robert Brown spent much of the spring and summer evaluating the talent that will join senior standouts Mutdung Bol and Chinedu Acholonu.

Bol earned first-team, all-league honors, while Acholonu was an honorable mention selection last season.

“It’s their senior year,” Brown said of his dynamic duo. “They have a lot of experience on varsity.”

Bol, who has an offer from Eastern Washington, was busy with his select team. Acholonu, one of the top sprinters in the state, earned four medals at last season’s state track and field championships. His best finish was fifth in the 400-meter dash and Acholonu was the only runner to compete in the 100, 200 and 400 finals.

“I expect those guys to come in just ready to go,” Brown said.

One player who elevated his game and standing is senior Nikko McNeal, who was a strong offensive presence this summer.

“He was big for us,” Brown said.

McNeal also provided strong leadership in Bol’s and Acholonu’s absence.

“The kids are used to listening to what he’s saying,” Brown said.

Much of the offseason was spent on shoring up Edmonds-Woodway’s defense.

“Defensively, our half court game was not great last year,” Brown said.

The Warriors didn’t have much height last year and it’ll be more of the same for the upcoming season.

Edmonds-Woodway will have a strong group of guards and Brown said the plan is to spread the court.

Senior Bryan Bunyatipanon and junior Nuer Bol both likely will see larger roles. Junior Steele Swinton is expected to move up from the junior varsity squad. Sophomore Ruot Deng is another player that caught Brown’s eye.

“We have a bunch of guards that are aggressive and physical and can play well,” Brown said. “We just don’t have exceptional size. We’re mostly 6-feet to 6-4. We don’t have one big guy.

“We’re a guard-dominated team.”

The Warriors also are dealing with the loss of assistant coach Nick Sherrill, who was named the head girls basketball coach at Mountlake Terrace. Sherrill was the first hire Brown made when he was named head coach.

“It’s going to be a huge blow,” Brown said of Sherrill’s absence. “He’s one of those guys I depended on.”

Brown, however, is happy for his former assistant, who is a familiar figure in the coaching community.

“Terrace is getting somebody who is really dedicated,” Brown said. “He’s a gym rat.”

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