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West Valley’s roster takes big hits

Team with state hopes loses Nilles, Ashley-Meek to illness

It was evident going into the girls basketball season that it would be difficult for West Valley to repeat as Great Northern League champ.

After all, Pullman and Clarkston, with the addition of Walla Walla transfer Jamie Weisner, figured to be challengers – not to mention East Valley, which joined the league after dropping 3A to 2A.

Not only is a league title in jeopardy for the Eagles of Millwood, but so is the possibility of a trip to state.

Two starters, senior Shaniqua Nilles and sophomore Aaliyah Ashley-Meek, came down with mononucleosis and have missed the last four games. They’re expected to be out indefinitely.

Nilles, a four-year starter who has signed with Gonzaga University, averaged 14.9 points through the first nine games. She also was a key contributor in rebounds, steals and assists.

The Eagles hoped to challenge for a state title.

“It’s a big blow,” WV coach Lorin Carlon said. “We don’t know if it’s season-ending or not. If we get them back, we’d love it. If we don’t, we’ll go as far as we can go.”

Compounding matters was the loss of senior Katie Welch, who stepped into Nilles’ starting position. Welch dislocated a shoulder in WV’s loss at league-leading Pullman on Tuesday. Carlon doesn’t expect Welch to return until next week. She’ll likely miss two games this weekend.

A thin bench has just become thinner.

“We’re dropping like flies,” Carlon said. “That’s the way life goes. I told the kids, “If you don’t learn anything else from basketball, you will learn it’s not a fair deal sometimes.’ I told them they’ll just have to play as long as they can and as hard as they can.”

WV, Clarkston and EV are tied for second at 4-2, a game behind Pullman (5-1).