A pair of junior transfers crossed paths both literally and figuratively at East Valley High this year to become the heart of the school’s basketball team.
Leading scorer and rebounder James Spotted Horse, came from Bullhead, S.D., a town of 500 on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
Brad Wilson, who last week had a 30-point game against Pullman, transferred to East Valley from Sioux City, Iowa.
During a practice last month they collided and Spotted Horse broke his nose. He has been wearing a protective mask that he said is more of a nuisance than protection.
They had a common reason for coming to EV that shatters the image of life in America’s heartland.
“I just needed to get away from the violence,” said Spotted Horse of his decision to leave South Dakota and come live with his uncle, Sonny Hairychin. “There is lots of teen drinking and smoking.”
Wilson moved here to live with his father - and to escape similar troubles.
“Sioux City was getting bad,” he said. “People were getting into trouble with drugs and violence and I saw myself going in that direction.”
The Spokane Valley is not immune to such problems, but both players agreed this is a nicer place to live.
“It’s good being off the reservation,” said Spotted Horse. “I didn’t like it much.”
Spotted Horse started school at Central Valley last year before returning to South Dakota, and was at CV again this year before transferring to EV in October when his uncle moved to Otis Orchards.
“This is his first year out of 16 off an Indian reservation and he’s had to make an adjustment,” said Knight coach Rich King.
Included has been a transition to more challenging academics and accepting a recent suspension for missing practice. Spotted Horse said he learned his lesson.
“I’ll be there. I want to play basketball,” he said.
King didn’t meet Wilson until the first day of school, but was aware of the type of ball played in Iowa.
“Brad’s from the same area I lived,” said King, whose father once coached against Wilson’s former school, Sioux City East. “When you’re talking about being snowed in, there’s nothing to do but basketball.”
The two have been welcomed to a program that was winless last year. Their styles complement each other.
Both like uptempo basketball, although Wilson, a left-hander, considers himself an outside shooter who must get better at driving to the basket. He is averaging 12.2 points per game.
Going to the basket and using his jumping ability is Spotted Horse’s forte. As a sophomore, traveling 60 miles one-way daily to Standing Rock Community High School, he played for a state qualifying Class B team. At East Valley, Spotted Horse has readily made the transition to Class AA, averaging 15.5 points per contest.
Their presence has been in part responsible for the Knights’ success during a 2-7 season.
“It certainly helped out,” said King. “They painted a different picture. And I’m tickled they are juniors and give us stability here.”
If Spotted Horse stays, that is. His uncle is looking to move and if he does the EV basketball player will go with him.
“I like it up here and want to come back again,” he said. “We’ll see what works out.”
Wilson plans to remain and work to help East Valley turn this learning season into something better.
“We’ve talked about it quite a bit,” Wilson said. “Next year I think we’ll contend.”
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