We reach the halfway point of the Greater Spokane League boys and girls basketball seasons this week.
Has anything surprised you so far?
Just two teams remain undefeated – the Central Valley boys and the Gonzaga Prep girls. Both are 8-0, but it’s unlikely either will finish league unbeaten. The CV boys, for example, have a rematch with G-Prep, which is sitting alone in second, and Ferris, University and Mead could also test the Bears.
The G-Prep girls finish the first half Friday night at 5:30 with their first game with Mead, alone in second. So let’s look at what’s going on among the boys first.
G-Prep is a much improved team since it was handled by CV 58-40 last month.
The biggest difference with G-Prep starts with the return of its biggest player, 6-foot-5 senior Ekow Nottinson, who has the wingspan of a 747 and the presence of Goliath.
Nottinson, whose minutes have increased, had his best game last Friday in G-Prep’s win over University. He finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Perhaps the most important assist of the season for G-Prep has to be credited to its trainer, Chris Hawley. He has worked tirelessly with Nottinson, who has battled a sensitive back issue.
The straw that stirs G-Prep’s drink, though, is 5-7 junior point guard Sam Dowd. He’s an electrifying player with one of the quickest bursts in his first step that I’ve seen. He also shoots a good percentage from 3-point range. The combination of those abilities make it difficult to defend him.
Throw in the workmanlike contributions from Ryan Alexander, Brendan McClary, Joe Chapman and Jacob Groh and the Bullpups have what it takes to have their best half of the season the final nine games.
This is why I picked G-Prep to win the league. Against U-Hi, the Bullpups played their typical physical defense and ran nice sets on offense.
The G-Prep/CV rematch is Jan. 22 at G-Prep. It’s a must-see game.
CV and G-Prep will finish one-two in league, as I predicted, meaning they’ll face off in the 4A district title game.
In 3A, U-Hi has demonstrated why it is the best team. But Shadle Park, Mt. Spokane and even Rogers, winless in league, can’t be counted out just yet.
In the girls, I’m convinced G-Prep will overcome the loss of senior wing Madison Wright, who was lost over the holidays to a season-ending knee injury.
In the first Associated Press rankings this week, I voted G-Prep No. 1 in the state and I put Mead third. Mt. Rainier has emerged as the best team on the West Side, but when it comes to girls basketball in this state, the GSL has the best to offer.
In 3A, it’s going to be a tight race to the finish between U-Hi, Shadle Park and Mt. Spokane. U-Hi fell back to the pack with the loss of starter Cassie Shillam for the season to a knee injury. Shadle has grown in recent weeks. The Highlanders’ three losses have been to 4A teams.