Local Thurston County High School sports launched the 2021-22 WIAA winter sports season this week as teams began non-league play in preparation for the regular season. The 4A Olympia High School boys team traveled to 3A River Ridge and easily defeated the Hawks 79-29 Friday December 3, 2021.

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Junior Olympia guard Parker Gerrits led all scorers with 23 points and Andreas Engholm complimented Gerrits with 17 points for the Bears. Cameron Schletzbaum of the Hawks had eight points to lead River Ridge.

Olympia (2-0, 4A SPSL) beat North Thurston Wednesday and will play the last pre-league game on their schedule Monday when they hosts 3A Kelso (2-0) at Chick Rocky Gymnasium. Coach John Kiley was excited for the play of his team. “I was pleased tonight and we came out with intent and purpose,” remarked Kiley after the win. “We set the tone early and I was proud of our guys tonight.”

Russell Steplight, head coach for River Ridge, (0-2, 3A SSC) saw the game as a learning experience for his squad. “We have a lot of work to do and it will take some time for us even though this was only our second game,” Steplight stated. “It was good experience for us and I expect us to be solid moving forward as we have a core group of guys returning.” Ridge heads to Tumwater to play 2A Black Hills Monday and starts league play December 17 when it hosts Central Kitsap.

Olympia begins league play Thursday as it hosts Sumner. Kiley hopes this year’s team can continue to build on its 4th place 2020 state finish and 2021 SPSL League championship (2021 canceled the Hardwood State Championship due to Covid). “We have a lot of talent and our team is a bit beat up right now but we are excited for the challenge of the year.”

The Bears have a core of returning players but the foundation for the team is built around junior guard Parker Gerrits, who brings consistency and energy on both sides of the court. Gerrits had 21 against Thurston with 9 steals in 3 quarters and led with 23 points, 5 assists and zero turnovers in 2.5 quarters against Ridge. “I think last night’s game was very clean and crisp, compared to our first game,” Gerrits remarked. “I’m super excited to see how much we continue to grow throughout the season. We all have been playing together for a very long time and have great chemistry so I can’t wait to see how far it takes us.”

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