The first player in Dave Stricklin’s 2020 women’s basketball recruiting class at Umpqua Community College is a familiar face around central Douglas County.
Sutherlin High School senior Kiersten Haines made it official on Friday, signing with the Riverhawks.
“I’m excited. It’s a big sigh of relief,” the 18-year-old Haines said. “I think we’re going to be pretty good next season. I like the program Dave’s built, like his coaching and know he’s sent a ton of players to (four-year) colleges.”
Haines, a 5-foot-6 guard, was a three-year starter at Sutherlin, helping the Bulldogs win the Class 4A state championship her freshman year and playing a big role in their runner-up finish in 3A as a senior.
She missed her junior season with a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus in her right knee sustained during a soccer match.
“Mentally and physically, that was one of the hardest things I’ve been through,” said Haines, who underwent three surgeries. “I started to feel 100 percent about halfway through (my senior) season.”
Haines averaged 13 points and 2 steals a game during the 2019-20 season for the Bulldogs, who won the Far West League title with a 10-0 record and finished 25-3 overall. She was Sutherlin’s top 3-point shooter, connecting on 40 percent of her attempts from beyond the arc.
Haines broke the school’s single-game scoring record with a 40-point performance against St. Mary’s, hitting a record 11 3-pointers. She received first-team all-league honors for the third time and was selected to the all-state first team.
The second-seeded Bulldogs lost 51-40 to No. 1 Clatskanie in the championship game on March 7 at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay. Haines had 19 points, including five treys, in her final prep contest and made the all-tournament second team.
“I’m proud of what we did,” Haines said. “We didn’t accomplish our end goal, but I was still proud of how we played.”
Haines, Abby Masterfield and Carmen Ganger were the three seniors on the team.
“Kiersten turned into a really good leader,” Sutherlin coach Josh Grotting said. “She took on a leadership role from the bench (during the season she missed), her basketball IQ went up and she extended it this year. She played much better defensively and really took advantage of having Jadyn (Vermillion) out top.
“Without her, we don’t get in the state championship game. I’m super happy and really proud of her. It’s going to be exciting to watch her play for Dave (Stricklin), and she’ll just get stronger and stronger. Kiersten is hands down the best pure shooter I’ve ever coached.”
Of course, winning the state crown in 2017 was the highlight of Haines’ high school career. No. 5 Sutherlin rallied from an 18-point deficit and upset No. 2 Banks 49-43 in Forest Grove, capturing its fourth consecutive championship in Class 4A.
Haines feels she needs to work on defense and speed at the college level. She’ll join a program that went undefeated this past season.
The No. 1 Riverhawks finished 29-0, but were denied an opportunity to compete for the Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament title due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“They’ve got some unfinished business,” Haines said. “I’ll do whatever they need in order for us to win.”
Haines, who posted a 3.91 GPA at Sutherlin, is looking at majoring in psychology.