Lewis and Clark returns the strongest starting lineup and enough bench support to supplant Central Valley as league champ.
CV graduated two starters and lost a potential starter, junior Whitney Black, the Bears’ sixth player a year ago. Black, who averaged 7.3 points and led in rebounding, decided not to turn out.
Mead, which advanced to the state championship game, has huge shoes to fill with the graduation of league most valuable player Jazmine Redmon.
Gonzaga Prep returns all five starters and 3A Shadle Park, which returns three starters and a solid bench, could make a deep postseason run.
All five first-team all-league players return. They are seniors Tia Presley (Gonzaga Prep) and Riley Holsinger (North Central) and juniors Devyn Galland (Lewis and Clark), Brooke Gallaway (CV) and Aleisha Hathaway (Shadle Park).
Second-team returners are seniors Hayley Hendricksen (LC) and Taylor Ingebritsen (Mead).
Road to new regional state
League play takes on more significance considering teams qualify for state from the district tournament now because the old regional format was eliminated with the new regional state concept.
Five of the six 4A teams qualify for district with No. 5 and No. 4 meeting in a loser-out opener. The district champ earns a state berth and the runner-up will meet the Columbia Basin Big Nine runner-up to decide a second berth to state.
• In 3A, all four teams qualify for district – a change from the information originally posted on the GSL’s website and printed in the GSL boys glance last week. The No. 1 seed is protected, meaning it must be beaten twice to be eliminated. Just one regional state berth is available.
What coaches are saying
Shadle Park is favored as the top 3A team and could challenge LC.
“We’re undersized compared to a few teams,” SP coach Chad Dezellem said. “If we continue to improve each week, we should be very tough down the stretch.”
CV coach Freddie Rehkow likes his team’s potential, but says it will take the Bears some time to find their way.
“We will probably not resemble the team many people thought we’d have at the end of last year, but I think we will be a team that might be able to make a good run during the second half of the season,” Rehkow said. “Our biggest strength will be having six players with playoff experience and a knowledge of our system. Our biggest weakness will be lack of size and varsity experience. Though we have quite a few returners, many of them have had limited floor time.”
You can’t classify Mead as in rebuilding mode, but the Panthers must replace do-everything standout Redmon.
“We’re young compared to the experience of other teams in the league,” Mead coach Regan Drew said. “We have depth and balance, athleticism in a variety of positions and versatility.”
North Central hopes to not only challenge Shadle for the lone 3A state berth, but contend in general in league. The Indians return five starters.
“If we can take care of the ball and get easy baskets in transition, we should be able to play with anyone in the league,” NC coach Gabe Medrano said.
Mt. Spokane coach Melissa Allen is optimistic. The Wildcats graduated just one player from last year.
“We started three freshmen and now they have some experience,” Allen said. “We will be fairly deep.”
Ferris returns four starters.
“We lost a lot of close games last year,” Ferris coach Rob Coulter said. “With seven returners we should be very competitive. We just need to find a way to win the close ones.”
|Predicted order of finish||7. University|
|1. Lewis and Clark||4. Central Valley||8. Ferris|
|2. Gonzaga Prep||5. Mead||9. Mt. Spokane|
|3. Shadle Park||6. North Central||10. Rogers|