The two best girls basketball programs in the area the past four years face off Friday night when Coeur d’Alene visits Lewis and Clark at 7:15.
They aren’t the same teams that have combined for five state championships in that span. But they’re not far removed.
It’s a game that should have been played sooner than this season, but schedules wouldn’t allow it. Although it might not have the marquee value that a matchup last year or the season before would have had, it should be entertaining.
“When you go back to our battles when Poff (CdA coach Dale Poffenroth) was at Central Valley, he still has a record of killing us,” LC coach Jim Redmon said. “But we had a few battles.”
The teams played three tightly contested games in summer tournaments. Both teams return two starters, but LC has more experience overall.
“It should be a really close game,” Poffenroth said. “It comes down to whether our kids play as basketball players or as freshmen and sophomores. It should be one that is more than well worth the money to come watch. I don’t see either team being superior to the other one.”
“We’re really looking forward to the challenge,” Redmon said. “I’m glad that it’s in our gym.”
The game is LC’s season opener and CdA’s fifth game. The Vikings, who have won back-to-back state titles and played in four straight state finals, have won 33 consecutive games, dating back to late in the 2007-08 season.
“They’ve done very well so far,” Redmon said of CdA’s start. “They’ve been able to work out some of the kinks. We’re going to have to adjust on the fly. Hopefully, it turns out to be a good game.”
Around North Idaho
I’ve published my predictions for 5A and 4A Inland Empire League boys and girls basketball, so here’s a quick look at the rest of the leagues.
In Intermountain League boys, Priest River, with four starters back, will not only capture the league title but will be one of the top 3A teams in the state. In IML girls, Timberlake earned its first trip to state last year. The Tigers, behind 6-foot junior post Cassie Thompson, will have no difficulty returning.
•In North Star League boys, Kootenai gets the nod in what should be a tightly contested race. In NSL girls, Clark Fork is the favorite.
New look at Lewiston
Corey Williams is the new boys basketball coach at Lewiston, but he’s not new to the region. A head coach the past 12 years at Fallon, Nev., Williams is a 1987 North Central graduate. He was a two-year starter for the Indians.
“I was on the waiting list to substitute in Spokane, but I got tired of hot dogs and Top Ramen,” Williams said. “One of the reasons we wanted to come back to the area is my parents are retired and live in Orofino and my wife’s parents live in Cheney.”
He steps into a highly successful program. The Bengals are coming off a state title, and they made eight straight trips to state under coach Dave Cornelia.
“There’s some pressure, but no more than I would put on myself,” Williams said. “The kids have been part of a winning atmosphere. They expect to win.”
Williams said he wouldn’t mind a little more time before opening the season. The Bengals return just one starter and graduated their roster.
“I’d like another month,” he said.