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I gave my heart years ago

A GRIP ON SPORTS

What makes a relationship work? When a long history is shared and expectations have grown, sometimes it takes a lot of work to keep a relationship going, growing, and to keep it fresh. I'm in one of those relationships right now and let me tell you, at times it takes a lot of give-and-take to keep it going. Read on.


••••••••••

• And, yes, my wife Kim knows. She even encourages it. My relationship, one that goes back more than 40 years, is with high school basketball. I've spent more times in gyms, from bandboxes in Pacific Palisades to sparkling fresh facilities in Wellpinit, than I care to remember. I've been there as a fan, as a coach, as an observer and as a chronicler. I've sat in gyms with a “crowd” that consisted of three stat girls and some guy who just came in to keep warm and I've been in gyms so crowded you expected the fire marshal at any moment. I've been in urban settings, with wire mesh and armed guards, and in the hinterlands, with dead spots in the floor and lots of overalls. I've marveled at games that were 8-6 deep into the fourth quarter and gasped as a dunk broke the 100-point barrier. Through it all I've been in love with a game that seems new each year, each month, each week. It's been a nearly life-long affair, beginning with my sister dragging me to Monrovia High games where a guy named Fair Hooker played. I renewed that affair last night, this time in Post Falls, as I covered a girls showdown for the Inland Empire League title. The Trojans defended their home court and won the championship, but it took a fourth-quarter rally and overtime to get it done. It wasn't the most artistic of games, nor the most fluid. But it was filled with the essence of competition, with players in both colors leaving everything they had on the floor. And they weren't alone. The student section under the south basket was full, both stands had its share of parents and fans and, as is the case in high school games since the peach basket days, they all could agree on one thing: Their team was getting jobbed by the officials. (The first half was a physical affair, punctuated often by a gentleman sitting near me who yelled “blow your whistle” more than once; later in the contest, when the officials tried to clean it up, I heard the same gentleman scream “let 'em play.”) But the calls were immaterial in this one. The players and coaches decided it. One team won and celebrated, the other lost and cried. I've seen it thousands of times before. It has yet to get old. Afterward, making my way through the crowd on the floor, I stopped and chatted with a player I've coached and parents I knew. It hit me. I've had the same conversations after games more times than I can remember. Only the names and faces have changed. And it never gets old. It's a relationship that only seems to grow deeper each year. And I'm sure of one thing: I'll keep the fire burning until my days end.

•••

• Washington State: After a couple days in Oregon, Christian Caple has to get back in the gym – and Gill Coliseum fits that description – this afternoon when the Cougars take on Oregon State. He has an advance and a morning post today and held a live chat yesterday. … It's Saturday so I pass along Ted Miller's mailbag from ESPN.com. … I also found interesting this story from the LA Times on USC's already enrolled freshmen. … The Cougar women lost at home to an Oregon team that had yet to win a conference game.

• Gonzaga: USF invades McCarthey tonight in a game that holds some danger for the Zags. After a week of emotional games vs. top-notch opponents, the Dons and their under .500 record present a mental challenge to GU. Jim Meehan has an advance and a blog post previewing the game. He also had a post yesterday looking back on the BYU victory. John Blanchette has a column today that looks at Gonzaga's long-term future in the WCC. … USD confronts what may be its biggest game of the WCC season as it faces off with Santa Clara with fourth-place on the line. … BYU has to bounce back from the GU defeat against Portland.

• Whitworth: The Pirates just keep rolling along.

• Chiefs: Speaking of Portland, the Winterhawks (above) snapped their four-game losing streak (including two in a row to the Chiefs) with a power-play assisted 3-0 shutout in the Arena. Think anyone in the stands there thought the officials were jobbing the home team? Chris Derrick has the game coverage with this story and blog post. … Tri-City was shocked by Medicine Hat.

• Preps: OK, as we said, we were in Post Falls for the game with Coeur d'Alene. Here is our story. … Greg Lee was at Mead's win over University (pictured) and has the GSL girls roundup. He also put together the GSL boys roundup. … We have girls and boys roundups from around the area as well.

• Seahawks: With next year in the picture, Seattle made a front-office hire and secured the services of a receiver. The Hawks also continued to shop Matt Flynn.

• Mariners: The M's made the signing of backup catcher Ronny Paulino official and found out their farm system is highly rated. But until that system starts producing starting pitching, the big league club's rotation is in trouble.

• Sounders: Fitness was front and center at camps yesterday.

• Sonics: Sacramento has a bunch of lines in the water, hoping to snag a whale that will carry the franchise on his or her shoulders.

•••

• Another Saturday filled with college basketball. As the weather here makes its problematic to do anything fun outside (ie., golf) we'll be inside somewhere watching hoop. Until later …


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Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Greg Lee Greg Lee covers high school sports in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Josh Wright Josh Wright is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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