The schedule maker couldn’t have planned it better.
Heading into this week, three Greater Spokane League girls basketball teams were still unbeaten. Now, in three successive outings, those teams - Shadle Park, University and Mead - play each other to complete the league’s first round.
“I don’t know if it’s good or bad, said Shadle Park coach Linda Sheridan. “At least it’s not an advantage for one or the other.”
Shadle Park (7-0) met University (now 5-1) on Tuesday winning 57-43 to remain one-half game in front. The Highlanders have a bye before finishing first-round play against Mead next Tuesday at Spokane Falls Community College.
“We probably have the best deal,” said Sheridan. “We had a little time to prepare for University and have a week to prepare for Mead.”
Before playing Shadle, the Panthers (6-0) must travel to University on Friday.
“We had time to kind of get ready for them,” Mead coach Jeanne Helfer said of the upcoming games. “The schedule worked in our favor.”
Mead’s wins have been by an average of 20 points per game, although the Panthers faced challenges in their first three. Helfer said her team has played 2 quality games since starting the season.
“I think we kind of worked our way through tough spots,” Helfer said. “We have a really young team.”
Mead has only two seniors on the roster and has been getting increased playing time from sophomores Holly Turner, Kelly Benad and Jennifer Bennett.
Shadle, which has nine returning letter winners, including five seniors, won its first six games by a 24-point average. Only the Central Valley game posed a problem.
“I have four seniors that have played with me for three years, and there are only two new kids on the team,” said Sheridan. “Last summer they committed to basketball and are enjoying the rewards of this.”
Kelly Bartleson, Shawna Rainer, Kristen and Terrese Miller are all third-year varsity members. The other senior, Stephanie Short, made an auspicious debut last year in the playoffs and has gone from there.
Although the series of games is the biggest both teams will have faced to this point, Helfer is keeping it in perspective.
“I’ve been around the league a while and know you have to be ready every single week,” she said. “Because the season is long, there is not an important game in January.”
Still Sheridan understands the significance of the moment.
“In light of how the season has turned out, it’s kind of an odd coincidence,” she said. “And kind of neat.”
Lakeside win heads NEA surprises
During a weekend of Northeast A League basketball upsets, Lakeside’s victory over previously unbeaten Medical Lake was the most surprising.
The Eagles opened eyes with the win which, coupled with a couple other upsets, changed the nature of the league race.
“It’s just a matter of it being anybody’s game any night,” said first-year coach Kevin Mulligan of Lakeside. “No one’s a shoo-in. You’ve got to respect them all.”
He said Lakeside simply played four quality quarters against Medical Lake, using a man-to-man defense that limited the two leading Cardinal scorers to less than double figures.
“We controlled the boards, which was a big key and forced them into shot selections I don’t think they really liked,” said Mulligan.
Last week’s wins, which included a victory over Kettle Falls, were Lakeside’s third and fourth straight and left the team at 4-3 in league and 8-3 overall. Chevy Mathews has averaged 18.7 points per game during the run.
Four teams are closely bunched behind the league’s top two - Chewelah and Medical Lake - including Riverside and Lakeside. The former was beaten by Freeman on Friday.
The same is true in the girls league, where four teams, including Riverside (5-1, 9-1) and Lakeside (5-2, 8-3) are chasing unbeaten Colfax.
Riverside second in tourney
Riverside’s wrestling team finished third behind Cashmere and Connell in the Royal City tournament.
Eight Ram wrestlers, including 115-pound champion Henry Peterson and 178-pound runner-up Randy Sadberry, were among the top six finishers.
Placing third at 108 was Adrian Bojorquez and at 158, Dan Kruger. At fourth were Matt Turner, 135, and Joe Downing, 141.
Between Tuesday, Jan. 17 and Saturday, Jan. 21, the Northeast A League championship will be determined with matches that include Lakeside at Riverside, Deer Park at Lakeside and Deer Park at Riverside.