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Coeur d’Alene's Carli Rosenthal is one of five WCC-bound women's basketball players that will play in the West Coast Conference next season. (Kathy Plonka)

Rosenthal’s Vikings seek fourth consecutive title

Some people are born to do certain things. For Carli Rosenthal, it was obvious at an early age that height and basketball were in her genes.

The 6-foot-3 Coeur d’Alene senior’s German grandfather, Hank Rosenthal, was 7 feet tall. Her mother’s mother, Grandma Sylvia, played basketball in the 1950s and Carli’s mother, Tammi, was a two-sport athlete (basketball and volleyball) growing up in Oregon.

Carli Rosenthal is an extension of her family. She’s developed her skills to the point they will be her ticket to college.

“She does things better than any post I’ve had,” said Ron Adams, who is in his 31st year directing the Spokane Stars AAU program. Rosenthal has played three summers with the Stars’ elite team.

She is trying to accomplish a first in Coeur d’Alene school history – win a fourth consecutive state championship. The four-year starter was pivotal in the Vikings’ state titles the last three years. CdA is 83-11 during her career.

Rosenthal took recruiting visits last fall to the University of Idaho and Boise State, but decided to wait until the spring signing period before making a decision. Oregon State and Fresno State are at the top of her list.

Adams said more schools have offered scholarships to Rosenthal than the combined offers of five other Stars players who have signed this season.

“She might be the best available post in the country right now that didn’t sign early,” Adams said. “She will be a hot item this spring.”

For many reasons. Rosenthal, a left-hander, is an immovable presence inside. She has great hands, can haul down a rebound and fire an outlet pass faster than Adams has seen and has a deft shooting touch from 15 feet in.

“She’s as good a (post) as I’ve had,” said CdA coach Dale Poffenroth, who coached three state title and two runner-up teams at Central Valley before going to CdA. “She runs the court so well. She’s deceivingly quick. And she can dribble up and down the floor like a guard.”

Rosenthal credits soccer to her foot work and agility. She played the sport from fourth through eighth grade.

For as long as she can remember, she’s always been taller than her peers.

She started playing basketball in the second grade and AAU in fourth grade. Her mom coached her team from fourth through eighth grade and the team was undefeated.

Rosenthal never recalls awkward moments with being tall.

“It seems like I’ve always been coordinated,” she said.

The most notable growth spurt came in fifth grade when she went from 5-7 to 6-1.

“I ate a lot of bananas that year for growth cramps,” she said.

Teams have tried to double- and many times triple-team her this year. It’s created some situations in which she ran into foul trouble. The most recent occurred Monday when she scored a season-low two points as CdA managed to squeak past Prosser, the No. 1-ranked 2A team in Washington, 43-42 at Yakima.

She’s averaging 13.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and three assists per game.

Her scoring average could easily be in the upper teens if she decided to be more selfish. It’s not her nature, though.

“Some kids can be accused of being a black hole, because when the ball goes in to them it never comes out,” Poffenroth said. “She passes many times when most kids would shoot it. She probably should shoot a few more times, but sometimes it’s hard to shoot when a player is holding on to one of her arms.”

Rosenthal should eclipse 1,000 career points (she has 994) when CdA plays host to Moscow on Friday.

Adams has watched Rosenthal play against many of the top posts in the nation the past three years.

“She’s a monster down low,” Adams said. “She’s a natural post player. It takes two or three players to stop her. You basically have to tackle her to get the ball from her. She’s going to be a great college player.”

Rosenthal works out with Adams every other Sunday. She has him on speed dial for when her free-throw shooting goes awry.

“He’s meant so much to me,” Rosenthal said. “Every time I see him, he teaches me something else. He’s always been there for me.”

Especially the last two years, because her father died of a heart attack the start of her sophomore year.

“He was like my best friend,” Rosenthal said of her father. “He was a calming influence on me. It was weird knowing he wouldn’t be at my games anymore. It was tough for a long period of time.”

This has been CdA’s most challenging regular season during Rosenthal’s career. The Vikings are 13-4 with three games left before postseason.

CdA came into the season trying to blend in some inexperienced players early. Sophomore forward Kendalyn Brainard, a starter last year, returned earlier this month after having knee surgery last summer.

The Vikings’ best game last month came in a 70-69 come-from-behind win over Federal Way, the No. 1-ranked 4A team in Washington.

“That shows how good of a team we can be,” Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal is especially pleased that Brainard returned.

“I think our high-low (game) will be unstoppable with her back,” Rosenthal said. “We’ve got more confidence now. Not just because Kendalyn is back, but because we’ve grown as a team.”

Rosenthal is grateful to have been part of three state title teams. She understands most of her peers rarely experience one state championship let alone three.

“Once you get a taste of a state title, you want it again,” she said. “I’m not tired of state titles.”