Few would have thought the Priest River boys basketball team would be undefeated and ranked second in the state among 3A teams going into the next-to-last week of the regular season.
Not one of the 11 Spartans probably would have predicted it. I’d ask for a lie detector test if any of them claimed as much.
Second-year coach Ryan Bodecker, however, thought his team had the ingredients for something special this season.
“I knew the kids had the potential,” Bodecker, a Priest River graduate, said.
So what’s been the impetus?
“I think it’s how much these guys enjoy being around each other and not caring who gets the credit,” Bodecker said.
Bodecker uses a nine- to 10-man rotation. A trio of underclassmen leads in scoring. Junior 6-foot-4 post Jake Weimer averages 16 points per game and sophomore point guard Eric Holbrook averages 15.5. Sophomore guard Matt Saleskey, the Spartans’ third-leading scorer, comes off the bench to chip in about 10.
The Spartans, who are 13-0 overall and 7-0 in the Intermountain League, have just two seniors – guard Brian Nelson and post Brian Fulp, who comes off the bench.
Priest River is coming off a big weekend that included a 77-62 home win over preseason league favorite St. Maries. The teams face off again at St. Maries on Feb. 20 in what could decide the conference championship and top seeding to district.
The Spartans lost four games to weather-related cancellations earlier this season.
Bodecker was hoping to find a game he could slide into the schedule before the final week.
Lake City also was looking for a game. The Spartans will see how they stack up against the 5A Timberwolves when they meet Saturday at LC.
The Spartans hope to go to state for the first time since 2002-03.
“It was a goal we had at the beginning of the year, but we really don’t talk about it,” Bodecker said. “We talk about keeping that edge and playing hard every night. When you look past stuff, that’s when bad things can happen.”
•The race for the top seed to the 5A Region I tournament tightened after former league-leader Lewiston was upset by Coeur d’Alene Wednesday night. IEL teams will conclude regular-season play this weekend.
On Friday, Moscow is at new league leader Lake City; Post Falls goes to Coeur d’Alene, and if the host Viks win the teams would tie for third; and Sandpoint visits Lewiston. On Saturday, Lewiston goes to Moscow.
•In 4A, Moscow has already wrapped up the No. 1 seed. That means No. 3 Lakeland will travel to No. 2 Sandpoint when the tourney begins Tuesday. The double-elimination tourney, which sends one team to state, continues two days later when the Lakeland/Sandpoint winner travels to Moscow.
Girls tourneys continue
Lake City couldn’t win at Lewiston in the regular season, but the Timberwolves won when it mattered most Tuesday in 5A Region I play.
The Timberwolves knocked off the Bengals 53-49 in a loser-out game. That sets up another loser-out game tonight when fourth-seeded LC (13-8) visits No. 2 Post Falls (16-6) at 7. Post Falls swept LC in regular-season play. The winner will take on the District III fifth-place team Saturday afternoon at Grangeville in a play-in game for a state berth.
•Upstart Moscow (7-15) upset visiting Lakeland (14-7) on Tuesday to force the if-necessary game in 4A Region I play. They’ll meet again tonight at Moscow to decide the regional title and lone state berth.
•The 3A District I-II tourney resumes tonight at Lakeland. In the first game, No. 2 seed Timberlake (14-5) meets No. 3 St. Maries (10-11) at 6, followed by No. 1 Bonners Ferry (13-5) taking on No. 4 Priest River (8-10) at 7:30.
The winners face off Friday in the championship game at 7:30. The game is preceded at 6 by a loser-out game between tonight’s losers.