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Stars hope Jack Blair fortunes change

A pair of four-year starters who played on crosstown teams and took them to the highest level possible will play together in their final prep basketball game today.

Kama Griffitts of Coeur d’Alene and Katie Baker of Lake City will try to do something that the Region team in the annual Jack Blair Memorial game hasn’t done in 15 previous games – win.

The Metro and Region square off at Lake City High School. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.

This is the fourth year Griffitts and Baker have played for the Region. They’re tired of being on the losing end in this one-sided series.

They thought the Region should have broke through last year when Metro prevailed 74-70. But the Region team made just 9 of 22 free throws.

“We really should have won last year,” Griffitts said. “It came down to a simple thing like free throws. We couldn’t finish.”

Griffitts and Baker had high school careers girls dream of. Both were four-year starters and fierce competitors. Griffitts played in four state finals, leading the Vikings to championships the past two years. Baker, who is headed to the University of Montana, led LC to a state title three years ago when the Timberwolves upset CdA.

They shared the Inland Empire League player of the year honor twice. Baker was a three-time Gatorade player of the year in Idaho. Griffitts, who will play at North Idaho College, was twice named 5A player of the year. They finished as the career scoring leaders for their schools.

It makes one wonder if they ever envied each other.

“I don’t think envy is the right word, but we were fierce competitors,” Baker said. “Kama’s so good. We both hate losing and we both love winning. We both have many of the same attributes. We both just tried to better ourselves especially when we played each other. I always wanted to better myself and beat Kama. Not because I wanted to get more awards than her. It’s because I’m competitive. She didn’t plateau and I didn’t plateau at any point in our careers.”

Griffitts agreed.

“I think we pushed each other to be better players,” Griffitts said. “I respect Katie and all of her accomplishments. Everything she gets she deserves. There’s really a mutual respect.”

It should come as no surprise that Griffitts and Baker expect the Region team to break through today.

“If we don’t win I’ll be really disappointed,” Griffitts said.

Said Baker: “I think we have it this year. I think we can run with them. In past years we haven’t been able to run with them. This year is the year.”

So what must the Region do to get the job done?

“If everyone tries to be the all-star, like they were on their teams, we won’t win,” Baker said. “If we play as a team and pass up the ball when we should and make the extra pass it should be divide and conquer.”

Griffitts sounded similar in her approach.

“We need to use our teammates,” she said. “We have to be unselfish.”

Notes

The other 10 players on the Region team: Katelyn Loper and Jordan Schoening of Post Falls; Amy Warbrick, Carli Rosenthal, Dayna Drager and Sadie Simon of CdA; Camille Reynolds of Lakeland; Shaniqua Nilles of West Valley; Jordan Loera of Moses Lake; and Shelby Cheslek of Pullman.

Here’s the roster for the Metro: Morgan Manchester of East Valley; Jeneva Anderson, Sarah Kliewer and Emily Travis of Lewis and Clark; Lindsay Niemeier and Bianca Pope of Shadle Park; Jazmine Redmon and Tifa Puletasi of Mead; Zoe Scott and Chenise Pakootas of University; Brooke Gallaway of Central Valley; and Tia Presley of Gonzaga Prep.

•The usual rules will be used. The game will be divided into two 20-minute halves. Each player will get six fouls. No presses will be allowed in the first half, but can be used in the second half. There will be no shot clock.

•All the players along with past and present college standouts will be available for autographs before the game beginning at 6:30 until 7:05.