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Lee: Top stories in 2011 tough to whittle down

Thu., Jan. 5, 2012

Beginning today and continuing annually as long as I’m the principal tenant in the prep neighborhood, I’m going to take a look back at the just-completed year and list what I think were the top stories.

There were at least a dozen feats by area teams that would be on a short list of the top accomplishments in any year. It was difficult, but I whittled the list to the top five.

Here’s my top five stories for 2011:

5. Deer Park wrestling. Coach Matt Jorgensen’s program keeps mowing over 2A teams and has been highly competitive with bigger schools.

The Stags captured their fourth straight state championships and they’re early leaders for a fifth consecutive title. Deer Park is ranked No. 1 in the state its division and fifth in the all-class rankings.

4. North Central boys track/cross country. While coached by different people (cross country, Jon Knight; track, Kelly Walters), the highly successful cross country program is at the heart of both teams’ success.

The Indians’ track team captured a fourth straight State 3A title, while the cross country team added a fifth straight championship to a crowded trophy case.

3. Lewis and Clark girls basketball. With about a week left in the regular season, it appeared highly unlikely that the Tigers would end up winning the State 4A championship.

Even by his own admission, coach Jim Redmon said his team was floundering. But the Tigers, buoyed by the return of Nakia Arquette, got hot at the right time and captured their fourth state title in five years in the school’s 10th straight trip to state.

Point guard Devyn Galland averaged nearly 20 points during the season and was named the state tournament most valuable player. Galland, who has signed with the University of Oregon, suffered a season-ending knee injury last month.

2. Gonzaga Prep boys basketball. Few people – outside of the Bullpups, of course – saw this coming.

The Bullpups of two years ago or three years ago may have been more talented than last year’s team that captured the school’s first boys state championship.

But G-Prep rolled into state and dominated teams with equal or better talent. And the Bullpups did it with tenacious man-to-man defense in coach Matty McIntyre’s second season. Point guard Chris Sarbaugh nearly doubled his regular-season scoring average at state and was named the tourney’s MVP.

1. Coeur d’Alene football. No surprise here. The Vikings were simply overpowering – in an athletic and speedy way as they finished undefeated at 12-0 and captured back-to-back State 5A championships.

The Vikings may have been not only the best team in Idaho but perhaps Washington. CdA defeated Skyview of Vancouver 52-14, and Skyview went on to play perennial power Skyline in the state final.

Quarterback Chad Chalich, who has given an oral commitment to Idaho, passed for 3,641 yards and 42 touchdowns with just two interceptions in 331 attempts. He also rushed for 471 yards and 14 TDs. He was named the 5A All-Idaho player of the year for a second straight season and was named Gatorade’s state player of the year.

Adding to his luster, Chalich broke a bone on the outside of a foot in the second quarter of CdA’s semifinal victory. The foot was placed in a cast and he wore it until the day of the title game when it was cut off so he could play. The foot was recast the day after the game.

CdA outscored opponents 626-182 and finished ranked No. 16 in USA Today’s final Super 25 national rankings.

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