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Valley Christian Enjoys First ‘B’ Tourney Berth

Having expectations is one thing. Realizing them often is another.

There’s euphoria at Valley Christian School, which has qualified for its first boys State B basketball tournament.

By beating Curlew 65-62 Thursday night, the Panthers met the goals set for them by second-year coach Steve Altmeyer.

The list of firsts for the 21-2 Panthers includes the team’s best overall record, Bi-County League and tournament championships and a berth in the finals of the District 7 B tournament.

Valley Christian played St. George’s for the district championship Friday night.

In four playoff games, Valley Christian has gotten amazing scoring balance. The team has been led, just as all season long, by Michael Spuler and Brian Sears.

Spuler, who averaged 15.3 points per game during the regular season, is scoring 15 per game in four playoffs.

Sears has lifted his game in the playoffs, improving three points per contest to 15.3.

But sophomore Eric Smith had a big hand in the Panthers’ two district victories.

He scored 11 points Tuesday during a 68-48 win over Selkirk. Thursday he scored 13 in the win over Curlew, including game deciding baskets and free throws.

Four Valley Christian players finished in double figures both times. Spuler had 18 and 14, Sears had 13 and 15.

Freshman Brent Decker scored 14 against Selkirk, the Panorama League South Division champion. Jeremy Sandin had 10 against Panorama North champion Curlew.

The Cougar loss to Valley Christian was only its second on-court setback this year.

The State B tournament begins Wednesday in the Spokane Arena.

Bears stay close to home

When Central Valley needed an uptempo burst against upstart Gonzaga Prep, point guard Ryan Smith found a way to deliver.

The result was Thursday night’s 54-46 victory and a local game to start next Tuesday’s eastern regional tournament.

CV, co-champions and top seed in the District 8 playoffs, shook the sixth-seeded Bullpups with two bursts, late in the third quarter and again late in the fourth.

Gonzaga Prep’s patience served it well and neither team led by more than three points.

Then Smith scored and assisted on an eightpoint third-quarter burst that made it 35-27.

Prep ultimately tied the game but Smith engineered one other run, aided by Jeff Priebe and Tom Perkes to nail victory and a game Tuesday at Eastern Washington University.

Smith finished with 15 points, 10 in the third quarter. Perkes had 12 and Priebe, whose scoring had diminished the last half of the season, bounced back with 11.

Two of four Big Nine teams, Wenatchee, Walla Walla, Kamiakin and Pasco will advance tonight and one of those is CV’s playoff foe.

The tourney continues in Kennewick and Richland next Friday and Saturday.

On the road again

While Central Valley’s boys stay close to home, the Bear girls must travel Tuesday for the first game of eastern regional girls basketball competition.

What’s new?

One of the finest girls basketball programs in state is accustomed to it.

Since 1990, the Bears have made six state appearances, compiled a 192-43 overall record and placed among the top four five times.

Twice before, in 1990 and again last season, the league champions were forced on the road against the top seed from the Big Nine League.

The Bears finished third in state the first time and second in state last year.

So the fact they lost to Mead 56-53 in Thursday night’s game was no surprise. Unlike the others the outcome was in doubt until Jenny Wilson’s missed free throw with five seconds remaining and likely kept the game from going into overtime.

Rikki Jackson with 16 points and Wilson, with 13, provided the bulk of CV’s offense.

The Bears will play either Richland or Kamiakin in the first round of the playoffs. The tournament continues in Kennewick and Richland Friday and Saturday.

Four teams qualify for state.

, DataTimes