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Post Falls seniors (from left) Brooke Litalien, Dani Failor and Katie King have long history of playing together. (Kathy Plonka)

On a mission

Post Falls trio aiming to close connected careers with state title

For whatever reasons, friendships are easily forged among female athletes.

That’s certainly true for three seniors on the Post Falls basketball team – Katie King, Dani Failor and Brooke Litalien.

They’re down to their final three games together. And they want to do something this week they could talk about for years to come. They want to bring home a state championship – something they’d cherish and tie them together for a lifetime.

They’ve started the last three years together. Litalien has been a four-year starter and King and Failor have been four-year lettermen. All three are honors students.

The trio have played together since middle school, and King and Litalien have been together for all but one year going back to second grade.

They’re at the core as to why Post Falls is making its first trip to the 5A State tournament since 2008.

Before the season started, Coeur d’Alene coach Dale Poffenroth picked Post Falls to win the state championship.

“He (coach Marc Allert) had all his kids back from last year, they’ve all played together and been together since they were little munchkins, and then they add that (NCAA) Division I transfer (Hallie Gennett),” Poffenroth said. “That makes them tougher than nails.”

Failor, a 6-foot post, has an appointment with Army; Litalien, a 5-6 guard, signed with Lewis Clark State College on Monday; and King, a 5-2 ½ point guard, plans to get on with life after she graduates.

“Sports have kept them together because they’ve been on most of the same teams,” Allert said. “Their personalities are different but they fit well together.”

Allert calls King the team’s glue.

“She’s the one that makes us go offensively and defensively,” Allert said. “There are numerous games where she’s our most valuable player and she doesn’t shoot the ball. She gets the ball where it’s supposed to be and defensively is flying around causing havoc.”

King, who averages 4.2 points per game and shoots a team-best 41 percent from 3-point range (18 of 43), smiled when asked about scoring. Four times she’s gone scoreless.

“I’m not a shooter,” King said. “I try to keep our team relaxed and control our energy.“Every team has a player you have to defend and I like to take on those challenges.”

While usually one of the most imposing players on the court, Failor at times has lacked what Allert calls mental toughness.

“She’s always had the physical tools, but she hasn’t always had the mental toughness,” Allert said. “That’s come this year.”

Failor is averaging 10 points and eight rebounds per game. Her scoring average could have been higher but she’s deferred to Gennett, who averages a team-leading 15 per game.

“Dani’s sacrificed a lot of her numbers this year but she’s a better player,” Allert said. “It’s always been about team for her.”

In the late stages of Post Falls’ state-qualifying win over CdA, Litalien asserted control when the Trojans needed to fend off a late rally.

“She didn’t shoot the ball in the first half and in the past that would have bugged her,” Allert said. “She didn’t force things. She ended up hitting the big shot toward the end and going 7 for 7 at the free-throw line to close out the game for us.”

Litalien, who averages 11 points a game, sees part of her job as bringing intensity each game.

“I know if I get hyped up it will help my teammates get hyped up,” Litalien said. “When I have more confidence it helps my teammates relax and have more confidence.”

Post Falls (21-1), ranked No. 1 in the state, opens state today against District III runner-up Mountain View (18-5) of Meridian. Tipoff is at 12:15 p.m.

“We’re going to state with a big target on our backs being ranked No. 1,” Litalien said. “None of it matters. We practice like champions. There will be no ifs, ands or buts. We won’t give up and let somebody walk all over us.”

Failor said: “Being able to have all of our hard work pay off is one of the best feelings in the world. It’s bittersweet going to state because we know this is the last time we’ll play together. It’s strange to think about. All we’re thinking about now is winning our last three games and becoming state champions.”