Parity has come to the Northeast A League in a big way.
Heading into the second round of basketball, only a game separates the first- through fifth-place boys teams.
And with the league’s unbeaten wrestling teams facing each other in three matches during this, the final week of dual competition, a league championship is up in the air.
Riverside wrestlers upended defending champion Lakeside 34-23 on Tuesday to knock the Eagles from the unbeaten ranks. That gave the once-tied Rams an early advantage and set the stage for their match with unbeaten Deer Park at home on Saturday.
Before then, however, Lakeside hosts last year’s runner-up Stags tonight, so nothing is assured. A title tie still is possible.
There are four weekends remaining before the boys basketball standings are sorted out.
After dropping off the pace with its second loss of the league season two weeks ago, Riverside has found itself briefly in a first-place tie with Freeman, thanks to a pair of wins over the weekend.
That was before Tuesday’s upset loss at Newport.
Riverside upset previously once-beaten Chewelah and came from behind in the fourth quarter against Kettle Falls. The Rams got a lift when Freeman beat Medical Lake.
Keith Cook and Kevin Kuntz came up big Friday, and Kasey Ahrens led the way Saturday for the Rams.
“Kasey has been a solid player for us,” said said Rams coach Brent Monroe. “Without him, we wouldn’t be where we are.”
Right behind is Lakeside, and the two teams play at Riverside on Tuesday.
“I don’t think anyone envisioned that everything would be so tight,” Monroe said of the Northeast A League race. “The big surprises are Colfax being where they are (1-8) and Freeman being where they are (7-2).”
For the Rams, it has been a matter of adapting to the loss of two players who moved away prior to the season.
“It has taken us awhile for the other kids to adjust to their positions,” said Monroe.
What has mystified him is the fact that two Riverside losses have come at home in games he considered the two worst his team has played this year.
“I told my guys we need to get on a bus, travel to Newport, come back and play,” said Monroe. “We seem more focused when we play away.”
It didn’t work on Tuesday.
Lakeside girls can tighten race
NEA girls basketball is nearly as close as the boys and could get a lot closer this weekend.
Unbeaten Colfax travels to Lakeside, and an Eagle victory would create a three-team championship race.
Lakeside (7-2, 10-3) has won five successive games since dropping early contests to Colfax and current league runner-up Riverside, which won three times, has a 9-1 league record and is 13-1 overall.
First place at stake for Mead boys
Mead’s boys lost for the first time a week ago Tuesday but regained undisputed first place in the Greater Spokane League three days later.
Now they face yet another challenge Friday against co-runner-up Ferris.
Third-year starter Jason Smith, who is averaging 19 points a game, and second-year player Damian Long, who is averaging 15, continue to pace scoring.
But it has been newcomer Ralph Casteneda who has made a difference. The 6-foot-2 junior is the 13th leading scorer in the GSL at 12 points per game and had 16 points each during wins on Friday and Tuesday.