Spotlight on LC Tigers
Lewis and Clark loads up for GSL girls basketball season
If Jim Redmon had his druthers, his Lewis and Clark girls basketball team would fly under the radar.
He laughs when he suggests as much. He understands the recognition that comes with qualifying for state eight straight years including three consecutive state championships.
A word of caution, though, to the Greater Spokane League, and the rest of the state for that matter: Redmon has the makings of his best team ever.
“This group definitely has more talent than the three state title teams,” Redmon said. “We’re definitely more offensive. We’re striving to get better defensively.”
Redmon will role out a lineup that features one signed NCAA Division I player and three other potential Division I players. And the fifth is no slouch.
Senior 6-foot wing/post Hayley Hendricksen signed early with Saint Mary’s (11.9 points per game). Then there’s a talented trio of juniors with point guard Devyn Galland, who averaged a team-leading 13.7 ppg; 6-1 wing/post Nakia Arquette (10.8); and 6-3 post Abang Taka (4.5 ppg). Her points and minutes should go up considerably this season.
The fifth starter is junior guard Julia Moravec, who was the GSL offensive most valuable player in soccer.
LC’s lineup is similar to what the GSL featured in general last year. The conference was young overall. The league’s MVP, senior Jazmine Redmon, carried Mead to the state title game. The five all-league selections return.
Gonzaga Prep, the team considered to have the best chance at challenging LC, returns its lineup intact behind senior guard Tia Presley, who has signed with Washington State University, and junior point guard Lindsay Stockton.
“Prep scares me,” Redmon said. “Prep has given us battles. They’re smaller than us and can score from a lot of different areas.”
Galland, Hendricksen and Arquette played at the highest club level possible in the summer. The rest of LC’s team also had a terrific offseason.
At least four girls, including Galland, will be in the mix for the league MVP honor. The others are Presley, junior wing Brooke Gallaway of Central Valley and junior guard Aleisha Hathaway of Shadle Park.
No team has the depth to challenge LC.
The Tigers were ranked No. 1 in the Tacoma News Tribune’s preseason rankings and second in the Seattle Times’ preseason poll.
Their string of trophies in five straight years was snapped last year. But they should start a new streak this season.
“You hate putting the target on yourself, but, honestly, with the talent we have it’s clear that we have to perform and we should perform,” Redmon said. “We had a good summer. We’ve got one kid already signed and three juniors who are all being recruited by Pac-10 schools.”
That doesn’t mean LC will overlook any team, though.
“Our league will continue to be tough,” Redmon said. “Everyone in our league has quality coaching and quality kids.”
For LC to win another state title, it must begin with what Redmon insists on before anything else.
“The emphasis will be defense first,” he said. “We want our offense to be fueled by our defense.”
If that happens, it could be another special year.
“I’m excited about the potential of the season as much as any of our years,” Redmon said. “They’re talented and they’ve worked their tails off to get ready for this season.”
GSL girls Outlook
Lewis and Clark returns the strongest starting lineup and enough bench support to supplant Central Valley as league champ.
CV graduated two starters and lost a potential starter, junior Whitney Black, the Bears’ sixth player a year ago. Black, who averaged 7.3 points and led in rebounding, decided not to turn out.
Mead, which advanced to the state championship game, has huge shoes to fill with the graduation of league most valuable player Jazmine Redmon.
Gonzaga Prep returns all five starters and 3A Shadle Park, which returns three starters and a solid bench, could make a deep postseason run.
All five first-team all-league players return. They are seniors Tia Presley (Gonzaga Prep) and Riley Holsinger (North Central) and juniors Devyn Galland (Lewis and Clark), Brooke Gallaway (CV) and Aleisha Hathaway (Shadle Park).
Second-team returners are seniors Hayley Hendricksen (LC) and Taylor Ingebritsen (Mead).
Road to new
League play takes on more significance considering teams qualify for state from the district tournament now because the old regional format was eliminated with the new regional state concept.
Five of the six 4A teams qualify for district with No. 5 and No. 4 meeting in a loser-out opener. The district champ earns a state berth and the runner-up will meet the Columbia Basin Big Nine runner-up to decide a second berth to state.
In 3A, all four teams qualify for district – a change from the information originally posted on the GSL’s website and printed in the GSL boys glance last week. The No. 1 seed is protected, meaning it must be beaten twice to be eliminated. Just one regional state berth is available.
Shadle Park is favored as the top 3A team and could challenge LC.
“We’re undersized compared to a few teams,” SP coach Chad Dezellem said. “If we continue to improve each week, we should be very tough down the stretch.”
CV coach Freddie Rehkow likes his team’s potential, but says it will take the Bears some time to find their way.
“We will probably not resemble the team many people thought we’d have at the end of last year, but I think we will be a team that might be able to make a good run during the second half of the season,” Rehkow said. “Our biggest strength will be having six players with playoff experience and a knowledge of our system. Our biggest weakness will be lack of size and varsity experience. Though we have quite a few returners, many of them have had limited floor time.”
You can’t classify Mead as in rebuilding mode, but the Panthers must replace do-everything standout Redmon.
“We’re young compared to the experience of other teams in the league,” Mead coach Regan Drew said. “We have depth and balance, athleticism in a variety of positions and versatility.”
North Central hopes to not only challenge Shadle for the lone 3A state berth, but contend in general in league. The Indians return five starters.
“If we can take care of the ball and get easy baskets in transition, we should be able to play with anyone in the league,” NC coach Gabe Medrano said.
Mt. Spokane coach Melissa Allen is optimistic. The Wildcats graduated just one player from last year.
“We started three freshmen and now they have some experience,” Allen said. “We will be fairly deep.”
Ferris returns four starters.
“We lost a lot of close games last year,” Ferris coach Rob Coulter said. “With seven returners we should be very competitive. We just need to find a way to win the close ones.”
GSL girls predicted order of finish: 1. Lewis and Clark; 2. Gonzaga Prep; 3. Shadle Park; 4. Central Valley; 5. Mead; 6. North Central; 7. University; 8. Ferris; 9. Mt. Spokane; 10. Rogers.
Great Northern League
Boys: First-year Clarkston boys coach Justin Jones, who takes over for Brendan Johnson, walks into a wonderful situation. He inherits a team that returns four starters and seven lettermen.
The coaches see Clarkston having no difficulty winning the league title.
“With our level of ability and depth, our goal is to compete for the league title and possibly a run at the state tournament,” Jones said.
Johnson’s contract wasn’t renewed and a fiery debate ensued that dragged out before the school board. Finally, the board decided to go another direction.
This is Jones’ first head coaching position. Clarkston won the league title last year by a game over Deer Park. Clarkston, DP and West Valley qualified for state, but none played for a trophy.
Pullman coach Craig Brantner sees a tight race.
“It will be a real tough league with the addition of East Valley,” Bantner said. “Teams will need to be well prepared and ready for a dog fight each night.”
WV returns just one starter and faces a tough schedule.
“Thirteen of our 20 games are on the road so we have to be road warriors,” WV coach Jay Humphrey said. “Our young guys have got to grow up quick.”
Two first team all-league players return in senior Brady Bagby (WV) and junior Colton Peone (DP).
Girls: It should be a wildly entertaining season.
Undefeated league champ WV and Pullman placed third and seventh, respectively, last year at state, and the expectations are for higher finishes this season. Clarkston was the other state qualifier.
WV is picked to repeat as league champ, but the Eagles will be challenged by Pullman, Clarkston and East Valley, which returns to the GNL from the GSL. It should be ultra competitive.
League most valuable player Shaniqua Nilles (WV), a 6-foot senior wing, returns. Other first-team all-league returners are senior Hannah Love (WV) and 6-3 senior post Shelby Cheslek (Pullman). Nilles and Cheslek each have signed to play at Gonzaga University.
The team to watch out for would be Clarkston. The Bantams return two starters in juniors KC McConnell and Ashley Meyers. Where they beefed up immediately was with 5-10 junior Jamie Weisner, a transfer from Walla Walla, whose father, Darcy, former boys basketball coach at Shadle Park, is now the Clarkston superintendent. Jamie Weisner, a first-team All-Columbia Basin Big Nine pick last year, averaged 19.4 points at WaHi.
Clarkston coach Scott Thompson must be trying to fly under the radar. He picked his team to finish sixth out of seven teams.
“Pullman and West Valley are the top teams and we will be in the mix of the rest of the league trying to challenge them,” Thompson said. “There are no easy games in the league this season with the addition of East Valley.”
EV was a 3A state qualifier last year. The Knights graduated their top player, point guard Jenni White, but return three starters.
“We have a good group of posts back playing in a tough post league,” coach Robert Collins said. “We’re looking forward to a good year in a very tough league.”
GNL boys predicted order of finish: 1. Clarkston; 2. Pullman; 3. Deer Park; 4. West Valley; 5. East Valley; 6. Cheney; 7. Medical Lake.
GNL girls predicted order of finish: 1. West Valley; 2. Clarkston; 3. Pullman; 4. East Valley; 5. Cheney; 6. Medical Lake; 7. Deer Park.