Rainier girls basketball cruising through summer tournaments

Mountaineers preparing for final season with core group


The 2024-25 Rainier High School girls basketball season doesn’t begin for another five months, but the Mountaineers are wasting no time this summer preparing to chase hardware.

The Mountaineers kicked off their summer tournament circuit with a strong showing at the Tiger Town Shootout in Centralia June 1 and June 2, winning five games out of six to take home the championship. Rainier knocked out Black Hills, River Ridge, W.F. West, Olympia and White River high schools.

The following weekend, the girls, led by head coach Brandon Eygabroad, swept through the Prairie Cascades Tournament to win another title, cruising past Oregon City, Seton Catholic, North Medford and Columbia River en route to the tournament victory.

On Sunday, June 16, the Mountaineers clinched their third consecutive summer tournament victory with a win at the Battle at the Beach tournament in Ilwaco, defeating Central 2B League rival Adna for the championship.

Rainier is led by its four rising seniors: Angelica Askey, Brooklynn Swenson, Bryn Beckman and Janess Blackburn. The players are motivated to improve this summer after a heartbreaking finish to their junior season at state in which the fifth-seeded Mountaineers lost to 12th-seed Toutle Lake in the Round of 12 in Spokane on Feb. 28. Rainier finished the year with a 22-4 record and an 11-2 mark in Central 2B League play.

“We’re the hungriest we’ve ever been. It was definitely something that made us think deeply about how we want to change,” Swenson said of the state loss. “It was shocking because now it’s your last season, and it’s your last chance to do what you want. If you want it, then you have to give all your work because it’s the last chance you have.”

Askey said the four seniors have improved their chemistry on the court, which is aided by their time together traveling to play summer tournaments and club ball. Beckman and Askey play for the AAU team Hoopstars Family, while Swenson and Blackburn compete with 90 Ten Black.

“We’ve gotten a lot better. We’ve been working on our chemistry a lot more, which is good, especially because all four of us play AAU, so we can connect on that because the game is faster,” Askey said.

The Mountaineers enter the summer season without longtime post Haleigh Hanson, who graduated this month. Blackburn said the team is working to fill the leadership vacancy that Hanson left behind and improve their internal communication on the court. She added the team has begun to do just that, starting with the three tournament wins.

“It was our selflessness as a team. Coming from AAU, we all know how to make those extra passes and to have fun. It’s a lot more free,” Blackburn said. “We want to become a close-knit communication team. I want us to be loud. I want us to step on the court and the other teams be immediately intimidated. I feel like we usually come off with a slight fear factor, and I just want to banish that for the season and get a trophy.”

Many of the girls on the team have played together since elementary school, so chemistry is  not often a concern for the Mountaineers.

But with the pressure of the upcoming season being their last together and the challenge of avenging their postseason shortcoming, Rainier is learning through the ups and downs as they come in the hopes that it will be worth it in March.

“We don’t necessarily want to dwell on it. For a good month, we didn’t want to talk about it,” Beckman said of their early exit at state. “Now, I’m glad we went through that because we can improve and continuously strive for the better. There is this feeling that we left something unaccomplished, and we have a name to create for ourselves. In a way, we’re basically starting from rock bottom, and I’m really excited for that, and I strive to get a trophy at the end of it.”

Rainier has a long way to go before it will compete for a district or state title, but the summer tournaments offer the Mountaineers a chance to accomplish small goals and play without the stresses that come with the grind of the 2B schedule. They have tournaments in Cashmere and Yakima, as well as AAU priorities, to round out the summer.