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Cheney coach Denny Humphrey. (Dan McComb / SR)

State Hall of Fame basketball coach Denny Humphrey dies at 79

Washington state Hall of Fame basketball coach Denny Humphrey died early Wednesday morning, according to family. He was 79.

Humphrey retired in 2002 with the fourth-most career wins in the state and currently ranks 12th with a 552-277 career basketball record. He was 26-23 in the state playoffs and had 30 winning seasons, in which his teams always finished in the top four of the league. He sent 24 teams to districts and 16 to state.

He won 13 league titles, eight district titles and finished second in a state tournament twice.

Humphrey was inducted into the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2011.

Humphrey’s longest tenure was at Cheney, where he spent the last 22 years of his 34-year high school career. Following his retirement, he joined the basketball coaching staff at Eastern Washington for four years, two during his son Rhett’s playing career for the Eagles.

Humphrey was Frontier League and Border League coach of the year numerous times and was named District 7 coach of the year in 1986. His teams allowed the fewest points in league play 21 times.

He served three years on the District 7 Basketball Advisory Committee, received the Inland Empire Sports Broadcasters 25-Year service award and is a member of the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame, inducted in 2004.

Humphrey was a 1958 graduate of Reardan High School, and also attended Valley High School for three years. He played basketball, football and baseball all four years of high school.

He attended Spokane Community College, playing basketball for coach Hank Coplen. He graduated from Eastern Washington State College with an education degree in 1968.

Humphrey started his coaching career at LaCrosse High School, coaching basketball, track and football for four years. Humphrey moved to Chewelah High School, where he coached basketball for one year and assisted in football and track.

The next stop in his career was Ritzville High School, where he was head coach for basketball and track for seven years and assisted in football. At Ritzville, he coached his oldest son, Jay, the current basketball coach at West Valley.

“Growing up in Ritzville, all my buddies grew up in farming families and they ended up taking over the farms,’’ Jay Humphrey said. “That’s what I did, growing up in the gym with my dad. I just followed in his footsteps. It’s all I know.”

In addition to Jay and Rhett, Humphrey is survived by son Keith and daughter Lindsay.

Washington State Hall of Fame basketball coach Denny Humphrey watches intently as his son, Jay, runs the West Valley Eagles through drills Monday, Nov. 23, 2009. (J. Bart Rayniak / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State Hall of Fame basketball coach Denny Humphrey watches intently as his son, Jay, runs the West Valley Eagles through drills Monday, Nov. 23, 2009. (J. Bart Rayniak / The Spokesman-Review)