The West Valley girls basketball squad is made up of many of the same players, but it isn’t the same team of seasons past.
Most of the girls were on teams that won eight Frontier League games combined the past two years.
Following wins last weekend that ran their record to 3-0 in the Frontier League and 8-2 overall, the Eagles are potentially playing Saturday in Cheney for undisputed first place.
“Our focus is on Colville first,” said coach Mark Kuipers. “They play so hard and are disciplined kids who can do some damage to you.”
Friday’s 59-34 win over East Valley showed how much West Valley has matured.
The team played with presence of mind, finding the open cutter of outside shooter for easy shots, while maintaining court balance and control.
WV shot to a 19-6 lead, but every time the young Knights made a run, the Eagles countered.
“It goes back to kids just being more mature and knowing the game better,” said Kuipers. “A lot have been in the program four years and we’re seeing results from that.”
Not that WV is perfect. The next night the team escaped Pullman with a 51-45 decision and Kuipers said they did not play well.
“Given it was on the road and we had an emotional night before you can expect a letdown,” said Kuipers. “It was way too close for all of us.”
Putting two good games together back-to-back, he said, is something the Eagles must do, preferably this weekend even if a win at unbeaten Cheney isn’t imperative.
“We’re not halfway through the season and have made good strides,” said Kuipers. “Saturday night we didn’t get better. That concerns me.”
WV boys maintain edge
West Valley’s boys have seldom lost to East Valley in basketball. Friday night the winning streak got longer.
Coupled with a 53-50 escape in Pullman in which the Eagles trailed with 15 seconds to go, they enter this weekend with a 3-0 league record and 10-2 overall.
WV started slow, then pulled away to a 75-54 decision. The Eagles led by only a point after a shaky first quarter. They led by eight at half on Vinnie Pecht’s score at the buzzer.
A 26-10 third-quarter run put the game away.
“We’ve been slow starting all year,” said WV coach Joe Feist. “But I thought (EV coach) Rich (King) had a good plan and took us out of what we wanted to do.”
Pecht, despite nursing an ankle sprain, controlled things in the first half. Aaron Mortensen, Austin Gerrells and Ty Gregorak proved tough down the stretch.
“Vinnie’s ankle is still bothering him,” said Feist. “I was really pleased with Ty’s game and Austin on the boards was a big factor.”
Pullman led the Eagles and had the ball late in the game but took an ill-advised shot that Pecht rebounded. Fouled, he made both and hit another when Pullman turned the ball over.
Next up are Colville and Cheney. The Indians beat the Blackhawks last weekend keeping Cheney from sharing the league lead.
This year six teams qualify for district in a format like the GSL. First and second place teams get a bye, the others play loser out, then it becomes a four-team double-elimination event for two state berths.
“Every team is good,” said Feist. “We’ve got to try and scrap our way into district and let the chips fall where they may.”
Basketball at midpoint
Greater Spokane League basketball teams begin the second half the the season Friday with important games on he docket.
Central Valley’s boys and girls entertain Ferris on Friday. The girls play at 6:45 p.m. and the boys play at the league leaders at 8:30 p.m.
The University boys, losers of three straight at home, play Mead in the Arena at 9 p.m.
The Panthers (4-4), winners of four out of six games since an 0-2 start, are chasing the Bears (5-3), Gonzaga (4-4) and the Titans (4-4, after being upset Tuesday night by North Central) for third place.
CV’s girls are 7-1 through the first half of the season.
Tune-up for Battle of Bone
University High’s wrestling team tuned up for tonight’s Battle of the Bone at Central Valley with a second-place finish in the Rocky Mountain Classic at Missoula.
Jared Osborn at 112 pounds and Andy Roberts at 130 won individual titles.
Sam Butler finished second, losing by one point at 189.
Ed Stretch at 135, finished third, Jesse Larson at 160 was fourth and Conor Jordan at 125 took fifth.
Central Valley can win the GSL outright with victory tonight. A Titan win would likely force a three-way tie for the title.