TUESDAY, MARCH 17, 2009, 10:44 A.M.

Winter is officially over

Winter (sports) is over. I can officially now proclaim it spring. Hopefully the weather takes heed. And quite a winter it was. My prep notebook in Tuesday's Spokesman-Review wraps things up.

In part it was look ahead, with a new football coach, Brian Gardner, chosen at North Central. In part it was look back on the second and third state places of Shadle Park and West Valley girls that brought closure to nearly three months of basketball.


I missed the Highlanders in Tacoma, deferring to Dave Trimmer following three weeks on the road so I could hit the road and watch my daughter pitch softball. Saturday was nice in Ellensburg, but a twin bill was snowed out on Sunday, a reminder of this prolonged winter.

But what a tribute to the Highlanders, whose defensive capabilities sent them to the State 3A title game. It was Shadle's third finals appearance, the previous two in 1988-89. Chad Dezellem, who spent seven years as assistant to Linda Sheridan, oversaw his second state appearance as head coach, earned his first trophy. Credit in part the shift to 3A, these girls had come close a couple times in the 4A eastern region hotbed that included three state titles,  two other finalists several other placers over the years. But the Highlanders were a talent in their own right and, given the circumstances, thankfully were afforded the chance go on.

Genetics played a part in WV's remarkable third place finish on a team with six sophomore regulars. Shaniqua (Shaq) Nilles, is sophomore daughter of Eagles boys coach Jamie and girls assistant Renae Nilles. Hannah Love is sister of former WV star Tyler Hobbs, who helped the Eagles to state places in 2005 and 2006. The leading scorers on this year's WV state placers are both sophs.

It was quite a winter with wrestling team and individual state champions and gymnastics placers and a horde of state basketball trophy winners from 4A through 1B. Gonzaga Prep boys, Lewis and Clark and Shadle girls from the GSL; WV and Pullman girls and Clarkston boys in the Great Northern League; Freeman's girls from the the Northeast A and eight teams from are B leagues all finished with hardware.

But now that sports heads outdoors - soccer teams have already played, the rest are hoping to get their chance - it's time for spring weather to arrive and baseball experts to come out of hibernation.

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