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N. Idaho honors its many stars

A busy day turned into a busy evening for several award winners at the North Idaho Sports Banquet.

Coeur d’Alene High’s Jenna Griffitts might need to clear extra display space for some of the hardware she earned Saturday. A couple of hours after earning co-MVP honors and winning the 3-point shooting contest at the Idaho High School All-Star game at North Idaho College, Griffitts was honored as the North Idaho prep female athlete of the year during the banquet at the Coeur d’Alene Inn.

Griffitts, who has orally committed to play basketball at Weber State, also won the top prep girls basketball player award.

Lake City’s Ben Widmyer, Post Falls’ Scott Stockwell and Troy’s Aaron Smith – all of whom participated in the All-Star game – walked away with awards. Widmyer was selected North Idaho prep male athlete of the year.

Stockwell was honored as the top basketball player for bigger schools. Smith claimed the award for smaller schools.

The University of Idaho women’s basketball team received three awards – Mike Divilbiss, top North Idaho coach; Emily Faurholt, top North Idaho female athlete; and team of the year honors.

Lake City’s Breanna Sande, another All-Star game participant, was a double award winner for cross country and track and field.

The banquet opened with Hall of Fame inductions for John Owen, C.W. Totten, Mark Schlereth, Ron Heller and the late Jim DeMers.

Owen coached North Idaho College wrestling to eight national championships.

“This is a great moment for me,” said Owen, who credited to his family and his former athletes, which included 35 national champs and more than 100 All-Americans.

Schlereth, who also served as the guest speaker, also thanked his family. His father, based in Anchorage, Alaska, never missed one of Schlereth’s UI football games – home or away. His mother lived in Moscow for six weeks during Schlereth’s senior year “to take care of me,” said Schlereth, who played 12 years in the NFL.

Totten, the former Post Falls boys basketball coach, had his players stand up to a rousing ovation. “They were very hard-working boys,” Totten said. “They played more basketball after practice than they did in practice.”

Sandpoint’s Dave DeMers spoke on behalf of his late uncle, Jim, who set national records in the javelin and made the 1928 U.S. Olympic team only to be sidelined by a shoulder injury.

“At 70, he was riding the bus with us to the state track meet,” Dave said of his uncle, who lived life to the fullest, even after having both legs amputated when he was in his 70s. “If you’re from Sandpoint, you know the legend of Jim DeMers. Now I hope North Idaho knows the legend of Jim DeMers.”

Heller, the ex-Clark Fork star who played several years as a tight end in the NFL, thanked his wife, Connie, and their four children.