After a program wins a state title, all everyone wants to talk about is “repeat.”
It’s no different surrounding the Gonzaga Prep team, which went undefeated and survived two tough final games at state to claim the 4A trophy last season.
Coach Matty McIntyre warns folks not to get ahead of themselves.
“We have a long way to go before we start thinking about that,” he said.
The Seattle Times ranked G-Prep No. 2, behind 2018 runner-up Federal Way.
While AP state player of the year Anton Watson, point guard Jacob Parola and shooting guard Liam Lloyd return, this Bullpups squad will be vastly different that the 27-0 team from last season.
“Right now. we’re still figuring out who we are, what we can be, what roles are. All that stuff is up in the air, so this is going to be a process,” McIntyre said Monday.
Gone are graduates Sam Lockett and Devin Culp, and missing is senior forward Jamaari Jones, who injured a knee in summer ball and will miss most, if not all, of his senior season.
“I feel really bad for him personally, losing out on his senior year,” McIntyre said. “He’s meant so much to the program.”
“It’s definitely a dagger, especially because this a group of kids that I’ve grown up with my whole entire life playing with,” Jones said. “To miss the last year we’re together, it really hurt me at first, but I also have faith in the guys that they’re going to have a good year.”
Between the three, that’s a lot of rebounding and paint presence that will have to be made up.
The Bullpups will be tough on the back end, with Parola and fellow linebacker Carter Sonneborn bringing a football mentality. Sheadon Byrd, who missed last season with an injury, returns to provide some size.
“I love playing defense and anything to help my team win,” Parola said. “If defense is it, then that’s what I’m going to do. And I love it.”
Sonneborn echoed his teammate.
“We have a lot of scorers, with Anton and Liam, so I’ll do my part in the game and try to get rebounds and play defense,” he said.
“We value those characteristics so much,” McIntyre said. “That’s the type of mentality we want the kids to have.”
McIntyre worries about the football players’ health, though.
“Transitioning into basketball, I’d like to give these guys some rest, let their bodies heal,” he said. “But the way the schedule is unfolded, there’s just not much time.”
The Bullpups beat Mt. Spokane in their league opener on Tuesday and play in a national tournament in Arizona this weekend.
Despite the scheduling challenges, McIntyre said it’s worth the effort.
“For us to have the opportunity to play on a national stage is one of those high school memories the kids will remember,” he said.
This program has made a lot of memories the past few seasons. If things come together, they might make more at the Tacoma Dome the first weekend in March.
Wildcats poised for long run
Mt. Spokane went 18-7 and made an impressive run through the District 8 and state tournaments before bowing to O’Dea in the 3A quarterfinals.
Fourth-year coach David Wagenblast was named GSL coach of the year and his Wildcats were ranked No. 4 in 3A by the Seattle Times in its preseason poll. He returns seven, including sophomore Tyson Degenhart.
Listed at 6-foot-7, the wiry Degenhart brings an already solid inside-out game and is dangerous on defense with his leaping and timing ability to clean the boards and block shots.
“Anybody that can handle the ball like him, can shoot it, can post up … he’s a tough matchup for a lot of kids,” Wagenblast said.
Wagenblast has five seniors with collegiate aspirations, including second-team all-league guard Jerry Twenge and two honorable mentions, guard JT Smith and post Tanner Brooks..
“We have a really deep team with some very talented basketball players,” Wagenblast said.
Wagenblast thinks if things fall into place the Wildcats could be primed for another long run this season.
“If we develop our team chemistry and do the little things we will be successful,” he said. “Our team has numerous offensive weapons. If we share the ball, we will be very tough to beat.”
Greater Spokane 4A
Lewis and Clark (20-9) was third at state last year and is ranked by the Seattle Times No. 6 preseason. Coach Jim Redmon has six returning seniors but has to replace all-leaguer Naje Smith. Second-team seniors Griffin Effenberger and Xavier Guillory provide leadership. … Central Valley (10-11) first-year head coach Mike Laws has a young team with some size. Jayce Simmons (G) and Quinn Johnson (F) return from a fourth-place squad. “Our inexperience will be a problem early,” Laws said. “Expect us to continue to get better as we gain experience and confidence. … Ferris lost six to graduation off an 18-5 second-place squad. Coach Sean Mallon returns five, including Reece Van Lierop ( G) and Kellen Erickson ( G). “This is a good group that works hard and is fun to coach,” Mallon said. Sophomore Cole Omlin, a transfer from Cheney, provides a boost. … Mead (3-17) coach Glenn Williams – in his 20th season at the helm – has his work cut out for him. “With only one senior, this could be the youngest Panthers roster ever assembled for a varsity campaign,” he said. Last year’s crew returns one starter: honorable mention wing Tyson Rogalette. … University (11-12) finished sixth in league and lost six players, including Idaho commit Tanner Christensen. “It will be tough to fill the shoes of Christensen,” coach Garrick Phillips said. “But we have plenty of returning players that saw important minutes.” Logan Phillips ( G) and Logan Dreher ( G) will be leaned upon heavily.
Greater Spokane 3A
Shadle Park sharpshooter Jake Groves has signed to join his brother Tanner at Eastern Washington next season. First-year coach Arnold Brown brings 19 years of experience – and his son DaMarius, an all-CWAC first-team guard from Wapato – to a Highlanders team which finished 6-14 . “We need to develop chemistry and commit to defense to be competitive,” Brown said. … North Central (12-13) returns six. Coach Jase Wambold has a strong group of seniors. “Although they come into this season with different levels of experience, they have all embraced our ‘all in’ motto throughout their careers,” he said. Leon Sayers, a 6-7 forward, is productive in the paint.
Cheney (10-14) has four starters back from a state qualifier, including second-team senior guards Devin Cook and Jake Berman. “We have a number of players who can contribute on offense,” third-year coach Gregg Smith said. … Clarkston is led by first-team guard Tru Allen – brother of Idaho’s Trevon Allen – and second-team forward Brandton Chatfield . Coach Justin Jones has nine back from his 9-11 team. “I like the pieces and roles that we have at each position,” Jones said. … East Valley (3-17) first-year coach Jeremy Knee will try to build. “New staff, new system, new heart, and new attitude,” he said. Tyler Holmes ( G) and juniors Tyrell Brown and Adreyan Hargrave will pace the Knights. … Pullman (19-4) hopes to repeat as district champs. League MVP Jacob Wells and first-team guard Isaiah Strong are the building blocks. “We have a good nucleus returning,” veteran coach Craig Brantner said. … West Valley (16-8) made it to the round of 16 at state but lost three all-leaguers to graduation. “We’ve got great kids who aren’t afraid to compete,” coach Jay Humphrey said. “Our main weakness is lack of experience.” Seniors Bryan Andrews and Jacksen Kaiser are leaders and transfer Nick Drynen (Gonzaga Prep) will help.
Colville (5-15) will look to guards Kobe Cunningham and Tayeb Hubbard to help coach Randy Bottorf’s Indians be competitive this season. … Deer Park (9-12) returns all-league guard Isaac Berglund for coach Chad Hand. Transfer sophomore Dawson Youngblood (Chewelah) offers a fresh look. … Freeman (24-1) first-year head coach Kyle Olson lost four all-leaguers from a state runner-up team. All-league forward Dylan Oja is back. “Our biggest strength will be our size and inside presence,” Olson said. … Lakeside (13-11) was bumped in the first round of state. Veteran coach Ron Cox has three returners, including two-time all-league guard Tristan Cox and forward Micah Holmes. … Medical Lake (11-13) brings back five to a fourth-place team, including 6-4 guard Micah Mason. “We will be small, but extremely competitive,” coach Noel Hachtel said. … Newport (17-8) was bounced in the first round at state. Ninth-year coach Jamie Pancho has first-team guard Danny Bradbury among six back. “Most of our key players were on the football team that made the trip to the Tacoma Dome,” Pancho said. “That will make the start of this season challenging.” … Riverside (2-18) first-year coach Steven Bryant is looking for growth from his young team. “We have an athletic group who buy into what we are doing,” he said. Guard T.J. Trepanier is his leader.
North: Davenport coach Michael Henry’s young team is led by guard AJ Floyd. “To be competitive we will need to play as a team, outhustle our opponents every night, and execute on offense and defense,” Henry said. … Kettle Falls (7-15) returns two: second-team point guard Matt Thompson and swingman Cade McKern. “To be competitive we need to commit to disciplined defense and rebounding,” coach Cameron Stewart said. … Northwest Christian (15-10) first-year coach Aaron Spuler has four starters back, including senior Jake Gray. “We are talented but young,” Spuler said. … St. George’s (26-1) was state runner-up. Four starters return, including all-state guard Erik Farias and all-league post Xander Werkman. “Four of our returners have been starters and will look to continue playing after basketball at the college level.” coach Ryan Peplinski said.
South: Colfax (19-6) was eliminated in the first round of state. Coach Reece Jenkins has just one starter – all-league guard Carson Cloaninger – returning. “We have good quickness and multiple shooters,” Jenkins said. … Liberty coach Mike Thacker needs to replace four starters from his state fifth-place finisher. “Our strength is our size and depth with a very good freshmen class,” he said. Seniors Isaak Ottmar and Jon Denny will be leaned upon. … Lind-Ritzville/Sprague (13-11) coach Dustan Arlt brings back eight. Senior Bryce Kelly was an all-league guard. “The league is probably as even and wide open as I have seen it in many years,” Arlt said. … Reardan (8-16) coach Brian Graham returns five starters, including senior leaders Andrew Alsept and Cade Francis. “We have a talented bunch of kids returning,” Graham said. … Tekoa-Rosalia (4-18) has four starters back, including second-team wing Craig Mueller. “We should be able to push the ball up the floor and score,” coach Michael McHargue said.
Selkirk has eight returning, led by all-league junior Ryan Zimmerman. “We should be strong defensively and feature good team length,” coach Kelly Cain said. … Northport (5-17) has four returning starters, including senior Zach Bruland. “We need to develop depth with our young kids,” coach Erik Stark said.
Oakesdale (17-5) coach Carl Crider has five starters back. All-league selections Kieron Anderson and Jacob Himes lead. “We will have a very balanced, quick and experienced team,” Crider said. … Colton (8-16) finished sixth and returns four starters, including all-league selections Reece Chadwick and Parker Druffel. “Our tough league will challenge us night in and night out,” third-year coach Nick Simons said. … Garfield-Palouse should be near the top of the league again, with Blake Jones, Austin Jones and Eli Hawkins as the Vikings’ standouts.
IEL 5A: Coeur d’Alene (12-11) finished second in league and returns seven, including post Kale Edwards and guard Drew Hostetter. “This is the most talent, top to bottom, that we have had in the past few years,” third-year coach Tony Hanna said. … Lake City (13-12) lost a state play-in and lost all five starters. “We are very young and inexperienced but very coachable,” coach Jim Winger said. … Post Falls (19-7) made a trip to state but lost Gatorade POY Jake Pfennigs. One starter returns: all-league guard Colby Gennett. “As a team, we will be very skilled with a very high basketball IQ … just very young,” coach Mike McLean said.
IEL 4A: Lakeland (13-9) brings back six but just one starter: post Josiah Naaland. “We will have great size for a high school team,” coach Dave Stockwell said. … Sandpoint (4-16) coach Wade Engelson has two starters back: guard Bruin Jones and forward Alex Stockton. “Our experienced players will have to lead by example and the newer players should get better as the season progresses,” Engelson said.
IML 3A: Bonners Ferry (11-13) brings back a pair of seniors: league MVP Seth Bateman and guard Dylan Hittle. “We have great team chemistry this year, everyone seems to be on the same page already,” fifth-year coach Andy Rice said. … Priest River (3-18) brings back three starters, including all-league guards Keegan Hegel and Robbie Anselmo.
CIL 2A: St. Maries (17-6) fifth-year coach Bryan Chase has three starters back, including two all-leaguers, guard Jackson Pritchard and post Daniel Howard. “We have the depth and speed to keep the game fast-paced and are a strong defensive group,” Chase said.
North Star 1AD2: Genesis Prep (22-4) won the state title. Senior all-state guard Jonny Hillman and 6-9 Kon Ajang return. “Our strength will be in our returners and their experience,” coach Marsell Colbert said. … Lakeside second-year coach James Twoteeth has four starters back from a 13-9 squad, including all-league post Day Day Higgins. “With a year under our belt this young team is looking to build on last year.” Twoteeth said.
Independent: Wallace (12-9) has seven returning. Senior Zack Welch is a three-time all-league guard and forward Erick Brackebush has been honored twice. “We will have five guys on the floor that can handle the ball,” fifth-year coach Corey Miller said.