After registering one of its best season in recent memories, highlighted by a return to the postseason for the first time in six years, the South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) women’s basketball program received some much-deserved recognition from the Northwest Athletic Conference. Sharay Trotter was named the West Region’s Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year while Payten Foster made the NWAC second-team West Region.

south puget sound community college women's basketball on the court
SPSCC freshman Sharay Trotter was named the NWAC West Region Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year for the 2021-2022 season. Photo credit: Grant Clark

In addition, Darah Vining was honored as the West Region Coach of the Year for women’s basketball after guiding the Clippers to their first NWAC tournament appearance since 2016.

“I’m still taking some time to reflect but overall I am just so proud of this group,” Vining said. “This was our first official season as a full team and they embraced every moment with grit. These young ladies would probably agree I challenged them the whole season to step out of their comfort zone, on and off the court. They accepted that challenge and worked hard at it each and every day. I believe everyone was able to see where that took us.”

SPSCC was one of the top defensive teams in the NWAC, ranking second overall in the conference in rebounding and fourth in steals. They finished the year with an 11-9 record. The team lost to undefeated and top-ranked Lane Community College (96-81) in the opening round of the NWAC tournament.

“It wasn’t the ideal outcome but the growth of these young ladies within one season is probably one of the biggest team wins this year,” Vining said. “Aside from that, we set four goals this season as a team, including making it to the NWAC tournament. They accomplished all four, which was amazing to watch them achieve. As my first official year as a head coach, this experience and team will always have a special place in my heart.”

Trotter, a 5-foot-9 guard/forward hybrid out of Todd Beamer High School, was sixth in the conference in scoring at 16.4 points per game and fourth in steals, collecting 3.7 steals a game. She scored a career-high 27 points in a regular season win over Centralia College before putting in her second 27-point performance in the Clippers’ season-ending loss to Lane in the playoffs.

“Ray is a true competitor,” Vining said. “She has put us on her back a few times this year. I think something that continues to impress me is her knowledge on defense. Her ability to read the offense and pick her opponents is amazing to watch. She really brought the energy on both ends his year.”

SPSCC basketball player Payten Foster  holds the ball over her head on the court
Freshman Payten Foster made the second team All-NWAC West Region during her first season as a Clipper. Photo credit: Grant Clark

The 5-foot-10 Foster had her fingerprints all over the Clippers’ stat sheet during her freshman year, playing both guard and forward. She averaged 10.6 points and 6.9 rebounds a game, while also finishing 11th in the conference in steals.

“Payten does it all,” Vining said. “She’s a forward that can score, rebound and play defense. Sometimes she can fly under the radar with her numbers being so spread out but the consistency she brings was significant in our success. The consistency doesn’t stop on the court either, she takes pride in being a student-athlete and is a great example of what balance looks like as a college student.”

The Clippers, whose roster featured just one sophomore in Tracy Abesamis, also received strong seasons from 6-2 post Jennie Goldsberry (11.7 ppg and 9.9 rpg) and point guard Kayla Jackson, who capped her first season at SPSCC by scoring a combined 49 points in the team’s last two games.

“Those young ladies were essential to our program and our success,” Vining said. “They are both captains for us and have led in their own special way.”

According to Vining, her squad is already “hungry and ready to get to work” on next season. “As far as next year, I’m excited to build off of what we’ve done this year,” she continues. “In just our first season together, we’ve been able to accomplish some pretty amazing things as a team. These young ladies got a taste of what the NWAC tournament is all about so I know their ready to work and take us back.”

Hicks Named Second Team All-West Region

Black Hills High School graduate Justin Hicks made the NWAC second-team West Region for men’s basketball.

The 6-7 forward averaged 13 points and 5.7 rebounds a game during his freshman season. Hicks scored in double digits in 11 out of the Clippers’ final 13 games and notched a trio of 20-point performances, highlighted by a 23-point outburst on 9-of-13 shooting from the field (69.2 percent) at Whatcom College Community.


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