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Lee: Hoop treats spiced up the holidays

Is it tough for you to go back to work – or in the case of the preps – go back to school after a long break?

This year is one of the few times I looked forward to returning to work. Of course, I needed the break, too. I came back refreshed. I hope you did as well.

A number of area boys and girls basketball teams played over the break, many of them in tournaments.

I caught three games in one day at the Holiday Inn Express tournament at North Idaho College. Event officials had to be pleased with the tourney for its competitive games and the attendance.

The tournament offered the best game I’ve watched since the winter season began. I saw the No. 1-ranked Federal Way girls basketball team take on three-time defending Idaho state champ Coeur d’Alene. It was an absolutely entertaining game from start to finish.

Barring injuries, Federal Way will be in the mix for the State 4A championship in Washington. For that matter, Lewis and Clark and Gonzaga Prep should be contending for the state title.

It was never a matter of whether CdA would be in the hunt in Idaho. Heck, the Vikings have been in the hunt since Dale Poffenroth retired at Central Valley to double dip in Idaho. But I saw a guard-heavy CdA team, led by senior post Carli Rosenthal, grow up a little bit.

And the best news for CdA is its depth will increase with the return of sophomores Kendalyn Brainard and Carli Williams, both of whom are coming off anterior cruiciate ligament injuries from last summer.

CdA stubbed its toe, though, Tuesday in a 41-33 loss at Lewiston. The win gives Lewiston a sweep of the regular-season series and all but locks up the league title and top regional seed.

• The Greater Spokane League boys and girls teams have played one third of their regular-season schedule. They’ll reach the midway point next week.

I’m going to take a brief look at which teams should fare well as we begin the new year.

GSL: In the boys, it’s evident that league-leading Ferris, coming off the state title in football and with a couple of key football players in the lineup, will be difficult to beat.

The Saxons have a one-game lead over Gonzaga Prep and two-game cushion over University, both of which they’ve already beaten. After those three teams, the rest of the teams have four of more conference defeats.

In 4A, it will come down to Ferris and G-Prep. Those teams meet in a rematch Jan. 14 at G-Prep when the league title and top seed to district should be decided.

U-Hi has a two-game lead over North Central in 3A. That margin should hold up.

• In the girls, G-Prep has a one-game lead over Lewis and Clark and Shadle Park. The league title should come down to the LC/G-Prep rematch Feb. 1 at LC.

Those two teams are the heavy favorites to get out of district and on to the new regional state format.

• In 3A, Shadle has a two-game lead over U-Hi. Shadle won the first game between the teams 73-49.

Inland Empire League: After such a thrilling win last week over Federal Way, it had to be unsettling for Poffenroth to see his team lose at Lewiston. Of the two teams, I still believe Lewiston is most susceptible to being upset down the stretch. Lake City has been playing well as of late, especially in the Holiday Inn tourney.

• In the boys, defending state champ Post Falls is still the team to beat in the IEL. But LC and CdA will not go down without a tug of war.