CARLY NOYES LOOKED like a natural on the basketball court last week at the state Class 4A tournament in Tacoma. And her stat line this season -- an average of 19 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks per game -- speaks to her towering skills. But it wasn’t always that way. When she first tried basketball as a Moses Lake fourth-grader, it wasn’t pretty.
“I wasn’t very good when I was young,” she said. “I was an awkward tall girl.”
But that awkward girl, who reached 6-foot by the time she was in sixth grade, grew into an amazing player who is part of WSU’s highly regarded 2009 recruiting class. Now 6-foot-5, Noyes leaves Moses Lake High as the school’s all-time leader in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. She also became the Columbia Basin League’s career scoring leader this season.
Cougar coach June Daugherty can’t wait to get her in Pullman.
“Obviously Carly is gifted great size and athleticism,” Daugherty said. “She’s one of those kids who loves to run the floor. She rebounds hard. She’ll do whatever it takes for her team to win.”
Noyes also has excellent timing. The Cougars need help in the post to go along with their standout freshmen guards.
Noyes, the MVP of the Big Nine Conference each of the last three seasons, had hoped to help the Chiefs win their first state championship last week at the Tacoma Dome after last year’s runner-up finish. But they wound up a disappointing sixth after losing in the semifinals to Snohomish. Worst of all, Noyes went down with a painful ankle injury early in Saturday’s consolation game and ultimately left the court on crutches.
The early diagnosis was a severe sprain. The tears in Noyes’ eyes reflected a deeper pain. She said the most agonizing thing was not being able to finish her high-school career on the court.
“That’s what hurt the most,” she said. “I don’t care about the pain in my ankle. It just sucks that that’s the way I had to end my high-school career.”
Noyes had nine points, five rebounds and four blocks in less than 17½ minutes of play. Without her, Moses Lake watched a lead against Federal Way fade along with the chances for the third-place trophy.
Moses Lake coach Matt Strophy calls Noyes “that program-changing kind of kid.” The Chiefs had never qualified for the state tournament before the 2007-08 season, when Carly and older sister Ann keyed a run that fell just short of a championship. Ann, 6-3, is now on the women’s track team at Boise State. Carly calls Ann her best friend and Ann surprised her by showing up at the Tacoma Dome last week.
Carly, who is known for her great hands and ability to catch just about any entry pass, had a huge summer with the Spokane Stars and scholarship offers began streaming in. Not only is she rock solid in the post, but she is athletic and runs the floor well, which is key for pressure defense.
“ACC, SCC, people were all over her because of the way she dominated other post players that are ranked so high nationally,” Daugherty said. “People out West didn’t understand how good she was until they saw her in those national tournaments. We were just very fortunate to get her. It was nice to see her turn down a lot of very big schools.”
Noyes said she turned down all those big-time offers in part because she likes the neighborly feel of WSU.
“It’s a small town with a college-atmosphere kind of feeling,” she said, “and it’s so close to home I’ll get to see my family a lot.”
Noyes said she also likes the direction Daugherty has the Cougars taking.
“That was another thing, I like the thought of being part of a building program,” she said. “It’s kind of like what happened with our high-school team.”
With the Cougars’ Ebonee Coates and Heather Molzen graduating this year, Noyes could be in WSU’s starting lineup as a freshman, although her work in the weight room this spring and summer will be key.
“She has an opportunity to come in here and play right away,” Daugherty said.
• With 6-8 Jessica Oestreicher, who will be a Cougar sophomore next season, Noyes' addition to the team figures to the give WSU one of the most vertically imposing front courts in the nation.
• Noyes was a first-team all-classifications All-State pick by the Seattle Times as a junior last season and figures to contend for similar recognition this year.
• The Cougars take on Arizona this Thursday (8:15 pm tip) in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. The Cougs beat the Cats twice during the regular season.