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The final day of high school hoops

A GRIP ON SPORTS

One more game. That's what's left in every high school basketball season. From the Mead girls through the Moscow boys and many places in-between, that final game may lead to a state championship. For others, it is just the end of the season. Or more. Read on.

••••••••••

• The "or more" part refers to the seniors. The last high school basketball games for them is an emotional time, win or lose. Take Colfax for example. Brandon Gfeller will play for the final time for the Bulldogs tonight at 9 p.m. in the state title game vs. St. George's. He first played on the varsity as a freshman. He'll play next season at the University of Montana. But in between those bookends, he'll try to lead Colfax to its second consecutive state 2B title. No matter the outcome of the game, there will be, well, not tears because, you know, men and all that, but at the very least a lot of moist eyes. But Gfeller isn't the lone Bulldog senior. For teammates like John Mellor and Bryce Kramlich (and a bunch more around the state), this probably will be the last time they don a basketball uniform and represent a school. They might not play 30 minutes a game or score 20 points each night, but the game and the team also means everything to them, I'm sure. After years and years of dreaming about wearing their high school's uniform and four years of the dream actually becoming a reality, it will all end tonight. No matter what, win or lose, that makes it an important day. A day they will remember long after the jersey they wear tonight wears out.

• Speaking of seniors, Gonzaga will honor three today when the Zags host Portland. Of that trio, I want to talk a bit about Mike Hart. A lot of our sporting sense these days is driven by a SportsCenter mentality. It's the spectacular play that everyone wants to see and the one everyone remembers. Mike Hart rarely, if ever, makes a SportsCenter play. No, he just makes the plays that help his teammates win. Early this season in a tight game – and can't remember exactly which one – the Zags won because one of their players, Gary Bell Jr., I think, hit a 3-pointer off an offensive rebound. Now Hart didn't grab the board – a shock, I know, as he seems to get every big offensive rebound – but he did do something instinctive – and crucial. As the pass came out to Bell, Hart screened Bell's man. I remember it clearly. I screamed at the television set because it was such a good play. Such a heady play. Such an unselfish play. The screen ensured Bell had a clean look. A little thing, sure. But little things add up to the one big thing every player wants. A win. That, in one 3-second stretch, was Mike Hart's Gonzaga career in a highlight. Making a smart, unselfish play that helped GU win. It should have been on SportsCenter.

•••

• Gonzaga: Not only do the Zags honor the three seniors today – Jim Meehan's advance summarizes their careers – but they also are playing for the chance to ascend to No. 1 in the nation. ... As we told you yesterday morning, the NCAA threw the book at St. Mary's, though it didn't ban the Gaels from the postseason. The sanctions are reverberating through the Bay Area. ... USD will be losing a bull of a senior. ... BYU has to bounce back on the road after the Gonzaga defeat.

• Washington State: The long wait is almost over. The Cougars will face UW tomorrow in Seattle. Christian Caple has a blog post this morning and held a live chat yesterday. ... It's Saturday, which means there is a mailbag from ESPN.com.

• EWU: The Eagles will say goodbye to their seniors tonight, needing a win to keep any hope of a Big Sky tournament berth alive. Jim Allen has an advance. ... Weber State tries to keep up with Montana. ... Speaking of the Grizzlies, quarterback Jordan Johnson was acquitted in his rape trial.

• Idaho: With the WAC tourney on the horizon, UTA and Utah State will probably meet again soon. ... Denver's student body pledges to do better supporting the basketball team.

• Whitworth: The Pirate women traveled to Atlanta, where they had trouble dealing with Emory's press and lost their first-round NCAA tournament game. ... Lewis & Clark and Whitman both won in Portland and will face off in the second round.

• NIC: The Cardinals are hosting the men and women in NJCAA Region 18 play and John Blanchette was in the gym last night to cover the games. The men lost, the women won and Kathy Plonka had pictures of the latter, one of which is shown at left.

• Chiefs: Spokane moved back into fourth place with a win on the road at Victoria. ... The Chiefs were able to move a point ahead of Tri-City because the Americans lost at home to Seattle. ... Everett was manhandled by Edmonton.

• Preps: We'll keep this simple. ... From Idaho, we have coverage of the Moscow boys' 4A state semifinal win in come-from-behind fashion. ... In Washington, we'll start with the Bs. I had the 2B boys semifinals story while Chris Derrick covered the 2B girls. Dave Trimmer had the 1B girls and Mike Vlahovich covered the 1B boys. We also have summaries of all the other games in 1B boys, 1B girls, 2B girls and 2B boys. ... Pullman will play for the 2A title tonight. ... Greg Lee is in Tacoma and he has this story on Mead's thrilling 4A girls win. He also has a 3A story and a 4A boys story. ... We also will pass along the Seattle Times coverage of the Spokane-area schools in the 3A and 4A. ... Tyler Tjomsland and Colin Mulvany have a picture story from the Bs.

• Mariners: Boom. That seems to be operative word thus far in the Mariners' spring training games. The M's have belted a lot of home runs. ... Their young pitchers are also getting valuable lessons.

• Sounders: The MLS season begins tonight with the Sounders facing Montreal. Seattle isn't at 100 percent and are also still in the midst of making some roster moves, so it could be interesting for Sigi Schmid and his team, which includes midfielder Lamar Neagle.

• Sonics: Sacramento has forwarded a bid for the Kings to the NBA. As Christian wondered on Twitter yesterday, does mayor Kevin Johnson sit on e-Bay all day and bid on items that have already been sold?

•••

• That's our report for this fine Saturday. I have the final game of the State B basketball season tonight, the 9 p.m. final between St. George's and Colfax. It should be a tight one and will probably start around 9:45. Until later ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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