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Head basketball coach Sterling Carter coaches his athletes during a Thursday afternoon practice.

When summer hits and the weather warms up, that means the Yelm High School boys basketball team is hitting the court and working on making progress at local tournaments. 

So far, the Tornados have made an appearance at the Franklin High School Quaker Summerslam (1-3) and the Bonney Lake Summer Splash (1-3), and have been making consistent offensive strikes against schools of higher stature. 

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Hands up! During a Thursday afternoon practice, the Yelm High School boys basketball team preps to work their defense.

The boys have two more tournaments lined up, Head Coach Sterling Carter said, with games scheduled at the Curtis Shootout June 21-23 and at the Battle of the Lakes June 27-29. The team has yet to place at a tournament this summer. After the tournaments, the team will take time to work on fundraising efforts. 

During their outing at the Quaker Summerslam, the Tornados played well but ultimately lost three very close games. 

“I got to take the boys back to where I went to high school,” Carter said. “It was pretty cool.” 

Senior small forward James Wildish sunk five three-pointers back to back against Stanwood, Carter said, and had some very consistent shots during their time in Seattle. The boys ultimately lost, though. 

Sophomore shooting guard Tristian Pyette has also been a go-to shooter, and senior shooting guard Bob Peterson has put in some quality time for the Tornados. Yelm recently lost two seniors, point guard Gabe Cruz, who provided speed aplenty for the Tornados, and center Brady Bytheway, who held a strong base in Yelm’s offense. 

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Yelm senior James Wildish, one of a handful of varsity hopefuls, goes in for a pass during a Thursday afternoon practice.

The Tornados would prove consistent later that day, beating Thomas Jefferson with a 15-point win. They would also suffer losses to East Lake and Capital. 

Yelm came back hungry at the Bonney Lake tournament June 7-9 and earned a 20-point win against Orting following a near win against Decatur. 

“The guys came ready to play and it kind of put salt in our wounds losing to Decatur,” Carter said. 

With Pyette, Wildish and Peterson leading the way, and junior Bradley McGannon, senior Austin Schaler, senior George Packard and junior Dylan Jemtegaard on the field this summer for football, Carter said his team is just a couple of key pieces away from being a really solid team.

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Athletes listen as boys Head Coach Sterling Carter lectures about defensive technique.

Carter also said expectations have been established between the team and his program, and he’s hoping their drive to commit to his lessons brings confidence to the team. 

“I think it’s going to be a fun year,” he said. “It’s all about confidence in our group.”

And when the boys hit the gym for their first game next winter, Carter will also be fighting for more than just the boys on his team. Last week, the second-year Yelm coach found out that he is going to be a father. 

“It just puts a little more on this opportunity,” Carter said. “I told these kids, ‘Man, I hope my kid is as cool as some of you guys.’” 

Coming into the summer season, Wildish said the chemistry and trust on the team is better. When they’re up against teams that have bigger, more physical players, they said they’ve learned to trust in the process. 

“It’s the mentality right there. You can’t be scared of what they are, you’ve just got to play your game,” Wildish said. 

Pyette said it has been great to travel to the tournaments and test their mettle. He also said it’s been important to experience the style of another team outside their league, be it a win or a loss.

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Hands up! During a Thursday afternoon practice, the Yelm High School boys basketball team preps to work their defense.

“It’s key to play them because you see a lot of different lineups and different matchups. I think it’s really good. It’s good for us ‘cause we’re starting to come together. Every single game, we’re just coming closer and closer and closer,” Pyette said.

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