After qualifying for state the past four seasons, Mt. Spokane and its four seniors have larger aspirations.
With all five starters returning, the Wildcats are reloaded for a run.
It starts and ends with Aspyn Adams, the fourth-year do-it-all point guard, who signed her National Letter of Intent last month to play at Loyola Marymount. She’s a scorer, a distributor and has a high basketball IQ.
“What’s great about her is she can run the 1, can run the 2, and as a point guard – because she’s had to step into that role – she can come in and just run that and I have full trust because she’s so intelligent,” third-year Wildcats coach David Pratt said. “And she’s studied it. She’s tried to master the craft.”
With Central Valley looking for its new identity and University and Lewis and Clark peaking at the same time, the top of the Greater Spokane League should be a free-for-all.
“It is exciting,” Pratt said. “And make no mistake, CV is good. They bring back a good crew. They have a good new coach that knows what he’s doing who has roots there. So that’s a big deal. U-Hi, us and LC, we all have an opportunity to battle it out. … But for us to be considered one of those top teams, that’s fun.”
Part of their reloading process included two transfer players – sophomore Niveya Henley from Garfield in Seattle and junior Jayda Noble from Medical Lake.
“For us to have kids choose to come be a part of what we’re doing speaks volumes of our kids,” Pratt said.
Henley helped lead the 3A Bulldogs to a second-place finish at state a season ago.
Noble is a three-star recruit on ESPN who is orally committed to the University of Washington. She is ranked as the 60th-best recruit in the country and 13th at her position for 2020.
“(Noble) brings so much intangible stuff, along with the athleticism and the ability to play this game at a high level,” Pratt said. “But she brings those intangibles. She’s joyful. She loves being on the floor. She loves the game. She loves her teammates. She’s always uplifting. To verbally commit to UW, that’s Pac-12 stuff. That’s big time.”
Noble will miss being a Cardinal, but Mt. Spokane offered her something that Medical Lake couldn’t: competition.
“Medical Lake has been my home for 10-plus years and I love everyone there,” she said. “I left in good graces and everything, but I was just looking for more competition and it was just a better fit for me and I really wanted to be a GSL player.”
With new faces populating an already talented roster, the Wildcats have their eyes on the 3A title.
“We haven’t made it to a state championship yet, so that is our goal,” Adams said. “We made state three years in a row, so definitely trying to get to that state championship and hopefully win it.”
Adams is among a group of four seniors that has inched its way closer to the state title game. This season, while their last, is also their best chance at reaching the goal.
“And here they are, in their fourth year,” Pratt said. “And to send them off with a gold ball, what an opportunity to give them that gift. We all want to experience that. We want to jump up and down. We want to hold the ball. We want to take a picture. We want to be at the end like everybody else. We’re excited.”
University bulks up
Adding to the action at the top of the league, the Titans are well-stocked. They also have to gain leadership qualities in a hurry as six seniors graduated.
First-team All-GSL junior Ellie Boni is still around and second-year head coach Jay Kennedy credits her as one of the best basketball players he has seen.
“Ellie’s leadership is amazing. She’s a great scorer and probably has one of the biggest hearts as far as competitiveness goes that I have ever seen,” Kennedy said.
The Titans have lost three starters, including Claire Dingus, a GSL first-team player, but they added two transfers. Junior twins Jacksen and Tyler McCliment-Call helped lead Post Falls to an Idaho 5A state championship.
“Obviously, they are very athletic twins,” Kennedy said. “They are great scorers.”
Greater Spokane League
Central Valley: Eight months after winning the State 4A title in an historic run and the GEICO Nationals title game, the Bears went through the most dramatic change in the GSL. Star players Lexie and Lacie Hull graduated to play at Stanford and Hailey Christopher is at Idaho. A month later, coach Freddie Rehkow resigned after 21 years at the helm citing a return to his family duties. First-year coach Ryan Bragdon will try to orchestrate a team searching for its identity. Seniors Mady Simmelink, Camryn Skaife and Tomekia Whitman return to defend the title. “It’s a good core returning, but the team will need to adjust to a completely new coaching staff and system in order to move forward into new successes and create their own path,” Bragdon said. … Ferris: Scott Ward, another new coach, takes over a young squad that went 3-17 – with just one senior and one junior on the roster. “We are hoping to be strong defensively and in transition offense,” Ward said. Forward Mayson Younger, the lone senior, will be looked to for leadership. … Gonzaga Prep: Eight letterwinners return for the Bullpups and coach Mike Arte, who finished 14-10 and fourth in the league. Three starters graduated, but an experienced team remains in place. Juniors Demi Howlett and Lakin Gardner and senior Faith Pinney will be leaders. … Lewis and Clark: The Tigers return everyone from a 16-9 team that finished second in league and made a state appearance. Seventh-year coach Gabe Medrano has three future college players, headlined by first-team all-GSL senior Jacinta Buckley (UNLV). Second-team all-league Dominique Arquette and honorable mention Kaylee Bishop also return. “If we can continue to work and improve our bench play and add that depth, we should be a very competitive team in the always tough GSL and in the state,” Medrano said. … Mead: The Panthers have seven returning to a squad that went 8-13. Transfers from the St. George’s state tournament team, Daysha Melendez and Shayla Melendez, add to the depth. Seniors Erica Nessan and Alexa Brandt will pace Mead. “Our experience and the addition of newcomers make this a very hungry and competitive team,” coach Quantae Anderson said. … North Central: Tim Lamanna takes over an Indians squad that finished sixth in the league with a 13-12 record. He has all-league Quincy McDeid to build around. McDeid has a chance to reach 1,000 career points this season. NC returns nine letterwinners, including sophomore Kyara Sayers and senior Adria Blocker. “Along with our experience, we have a team that is very long, and we do a good job of being disruptive on defense,” Lamanna said. … Rogers: Coach Lindsay Hernandez marks the fourth new coach in the league this season. She is trying to change the culture of the program. While the Pirates may struggle in the standings, Hernandez will hope to improve her players’ basketball IQ and their personal foundations. Akon Aleu graduated while junior Savanna Wicerking and senior Ziona Combs return to help the Pirates grow. “I just think it’s important for the community to understand that there is so much more to playing and coaching at Rogers that teaching X’s and O’s,” Hernandez said. …Shadle Park: The Highlanders will look to rebound from their 3-17 record . Third-year coach Tim Riles lost four starters to graduation. Junior post Jocelyn Whitney and junior wing Mackenzie Mortlock are the key returners. Sophomore PG Izzy Boring is another player to watch after transferring from St. George’s. “We are young and inexperienced but should be a little more athletic,” Riles said. “We have a number of girls who aren’t afraid to shoot and score.”
Great Northern League
East Valley (22-2): After third-place finish at state, coach Rob Collins and the Knights want more. They are led by league MVP Genesis Wilkinson, who signed at Carroll College. First-team all-leaguer Brie Holecek and second-teamer Faith Adams also return. “Defense will be our strength again this year,” Collins said. “We like to play fast and run the court.” … Pullman: Former UCLA player Amy Jalaweia-Singh takes over a last-place squad. Tianah Sanders and Peyton Teevens will be leaders. … West Valley (11-13): Junior first-team all-league Hailey Marlow will be the leader of an experienced crew. Second-year coach Rick Jones hopes to improve team chemistry. “Our strength will be speed and defensive pressure with an offense attacking the rim and shooting the 3,” he said. … Clarkston (16-6): Coach Debbie Sobotta’s team placed second in league and returns three starters. Guard Ashlyn Wallace is an emerging star. … Cheney (7-14): Coach Lorin Carlon brings back two starters: guard Maggie Smith and post Shelby Draper. Emma Evans will contribute quickly.
Colville freshman McKenna Reggear has been playing elite AAU for a few years and Hallie Cox was a second-team all-league player. “The team will have to play great defense and play smart team offense to be successful,” coach John Foulks said … Deer Park coach KC Ahrens is coaching his first girls team after leading Riverside’s boys for a few seasons. Second-team all-league Payge Rose, JoJo Bunch and Hava Fairbanks return. “We have some size and good guard play, but depth will be an issue with injuries and losing some players from last season,” Ahrens said. … Freeman made state after going 15-10 and only lost one starter to graduation. Keep an eye on Sage Aldendorf and Macy Luhr. “Team defense and speed should be our strengths,” coach Aaron McLean said. … Lakeside lost star Sienna Swannack, but three starters return for coach Jeff Pietz in his 12th season: seniors Kendra Gay, Rylee Thomas and Maiya Martinez. “We will rely on our experience and having played in tough games over the years to push us through a tough nonleague schedule,” Pietz said. …Medical Lake coach Kyle Lundberg has a lot of experience as seven return, including many who have been a part of back-to-back district champions. Lexie Redell and a healthy Jessica Lohman return to support a strong nucleus. … Newport has six returning, including Cydni Lewis and Julie Schoener. Coach Mike Frederick is in his 28th season coaching Newport. “Speed and quickness are our strengths right now. We need to work on tempo, transition and rebounding,” he said. …Riverside went 6-15 for coach Joe Gannon. Senior post Ava West is a leader.
North: Davenport was state runner-up to Colfax , following its state title in 2017. Four starters return for coach Stacia Soliday, including three all-leaguers: guard Sydney Zeiler, forward Lainy Jacobsen and guard Darby Soliday. “We are experienced despite having only three upperclassmen,” coach Soliday said. … Kettle Falls has four starters returning, including guards Zarah Johnson and Samantha Dudley. “We have good size, good athleticism, good guard play and smart players,” veteran coach Tyler Edwards said. … Northwest Christian finished 18-7 last year, earning coach Talara Frost league co-coach of the year honors. All-league point guard Natalie Smith returns along with seven others. “We will be in a bit of transition after graduating four integral seniors,” Frost said. … St. George’s went 21-8 and finished third in state , but was hurt by four players transferring. “We lost several key players from last year and we have an all-new coaching staff, so it will take some time to find our way with each other,” first-year coach Cliff Berdar said. Senior point guard Abby Jones and forward Lydia Bergquist will provide leadership.
South: Colfax (24-4) won the State 2B title – its eighth in the last 10 years – as the No. 5 seed. Veteran coach Corey Baerlocher was league and state 2B girls coach of the year. The Bulldogs lost all five starters to graduation though, so it’s back to the drawing board. “We may not have the size we did a year ago, but the increase in overall team speed will prove to be critical in the Bulldog’s new look on offense and defense,” Baerlocher said. … Liberty (15-9) has all five starters back, including all-league guard Maisie Burnham and forward Aleena Cook. The Lancers hope to get back to state this year for the first time in 10 years. “With seven returning players from last seoasn, we’re looking to continue to learn and improve,” second-year coach Chris Colvin said. … Reardan is led by guard Kiimberley Dewey, who averaged 20 points and eight rebounds. First-year coach Damon Dewey has three seniors who bring experience: posts Faina Frolov and Chloe Pimley, and guard Whitney Bjornberg. “We are looking to grow as a group this year,” Dewey said. “We hope to have a good run at teams in this very competitive league.” … Tekoa-Rosalia is rebuilding, with four starters lost to graduation off last season’s 2-20 team. First-year coach Roy Schultz is counting on sophomores Gwynn Razo and Elise Wilkins to lead his young team, which will include five sophomores, four freshmen and two eighth-graders. “We are trying to lay the foundation that in the next couple of years we can make a run in the playoffs and state,” he said.
Cusick first-year coach Marcella Haynes lost four starters. Senior post Emma Hardie and guard Jalyna Castillo will be counted on. “We are in a transition of young and new players this year,” Haynes said. “It’s going to be a growing and learning season.” … Odessa (7-16) has nine back, including guards Maddy Wagner and McKennah Davison. “Defense will need to be our strong point since our offense is a work in progress,” second-year coach Travis Schuh said.
Colton (26-1) won its ninth state title in 10 years under 14-year coach Clark Vining. The Wildcats have nine back, including all-league seniors Jordyn Moehrle, Dakota Patchen and Emily Schultheis. “We will be able to throw some different looks on the floor this year,” Vining said. … Oakesdale (18-7) placed third in league. Senior Logan Reed is among three returning starters for sixth-year coach Dan Brown.
IEL 5A: Coeur d’Alene has 10 coming back, but lost all five starters. Coach Scott Stockwell will rely on post Kelly Horning and guards Emma Whiteman and Tori Younker. “We return this year as a fairly young team,” Stockwell said. … Lake City (14-10) lost in districts but should build on that finish with four returning starters, including all-league forward Bridget Rieken, point guard Chloe Teets and guard Klaire Mitchell. “We have good senior leadership and athleticism,” said coach James Anderson. … Post Falls (24-2) won its second state title but lost six players. Gatorade POY Melody Kempton and all-state guard Bayley Brennan graduated, while Tyler and Jacksen McClimint-Call transferred to U-Hi. “This team will be young and inexperienced with only one player returning with significant varsity playing time,” two-time state coach of the year Marc Allert said.
IEL 4A: Lakeland (4-16) coach Steve Seymour enters his 24th season. He has six coming back, including league newcomer of the year guard Mel Loutenhiser and guard Lauryn Cooper. “This team is a blend of experienced upperclassmen and hardworking underclassmen,” Seymour said. … Sandpoint (14-10) first-year coach William Love inherits a team that went to state but lost all five starters. “While we lost seven seniors, this group is not new to playing varsity basketball,” he said. Junior guards Maddie Morgan and Dawson Driggs will be leaders.
IML 3A: Bonners Ferry (18-7) finished second with a trip to state last year. The Badgers return two starters: post Jerzie Pluid and guard Holly Ansley, along with three others. Coach Travis Hinthorn said chemistry and speed will be strengths. “We need to stay healthy, stay out of foul trouble and become balanced on offense to compete,” he said. … Timberlake (21-4) is led by second-team all-state forward Brooke Jensen and all-league guards McKeeley Tonkin and Taryn Soumas. The Tigers placed third at state for coach Matt Miller, entering his 14th season. “Our biggest strength is a balanced inside/out attack,” he said.
CIL 2A: St. Maries (16-8) has four returning for first-year coach John Cordell. League MVP post Kaci Haeg and all-league guard Madison Cordell are leaders.
North Star 1AD2: Clark Fork (6-10) second-year coach Jordan Adams has all five starters returning, including guard Brooke Stevens and post Lily Simko. “We have an older team this year with a few very promising underclassmen,” Adams said. … Lakeside (10-12) returns all five starters and nine , including all-league guards Tommia Pakootas, Alyssa SiJohn and Tara Allen. “We have some very tough competition in league which is also returning most of their players, so it will be a very competitive season,” coach Chris Dohrman said.
Independent: Wallace (5-14) has all-league post Maggie Howard among seven returning. “We are quick and have enough players to rotate into the line up to keep up the pace,” said second-year coach Nichole Farkas. “We have to work on limiting turnovers in order to be successful.”