December 3, 2013 in Sports

GSL boys basketball preview


What the coaches see

Out of eight coaches who voted, seven picked CV to capture the league title. The Bears received 79 points. Ferris (70) received the other first-place vote. G-Prep was tabbed third (64) followed by Shadle (57), Mead (45), U-Hi (42), LC (32), Mt. Spokane (23), Rogers (20) and NC (8).

Road to state

The top two 4A teams advance to a subregional with the Mid-Columbia Conference where the top two teams go on to the state regional round. The top three 3A teams go on to a subregional with the MCC where the top two teams go on to the state regional round.

All-league returners

Four return in Benzel, Dowd, Chamberlain and Stiles.

The Bears return four starters. They are seniors Adam Chamberlain, Beau Byus, A.J. Kundsen and Austin Daines. Two other seniors, Justin Fayant and Trey Carolan, will see considerable playing time. “It’s a proven, experienced bunch,” CV coach Rick Sloan said. CV, which took second in state two years ago and fourth last year, will be in the mix for another top State 4A placing. The Bears will find out where they stack up, at least in Eastern Washington, when they travel to Richland on Dec. 28 for a nonleague game.

The Saxons bring back two starters – seniors Cody Benzel and Jensen Rye – and a handful of players who shared another starting role. Benzel averaged a team-leading 17.6 points per game, second most of the league’s returning players, and Rye chipped in at 10.7 per game. At 6-foot-9, Rye will be the tallest player in the GSL and could have a big impact. With two starters and seven other lettermen back, coach Don Van Lierop likes his team’s experience and size.

The Bullpups return three starters. They are seniors Sam Dowd, Ryan Alexander and Brendan McClary. Senior Reed Hopkins, a 6-4 forward, returns after missing last season with an ACL injury. Jamil Foster, a 6-4 post, transferred from North Central last year during the season and is immediately eligible. “We lack size and depth,” G-Prep coach Matty McIntyre said. “We hope to be playing our best ball toward the end of the year knowing that success in the district tournament is key to extending our season.”

Coach Tim Gaebe has an idea what his roster will look like, but the extended football season has had an impact. The Highlanders return four starters in seniors Skyler Kelley, Alvin Welch and Kyle Knutsen and junior George Pilimai. Senior Dale Hagan and junior Sam Stratton will see minutes off the bench. Freshman Andreas Brown, younger brother of Kionte Brown, will battle for a starting job. Another freshman could see minutes, and two transfers – one going through an appeal to get varsity eligibility – could have an impact. The Highlanders should be the top 3A team in the league once they find their legs. “Our biggest thing right now is getting everybody in the gym,” Gaebe said. “We have a chance to be real deep.”

The Panthers bring back two starters in senior Thomas Kautzman and junior Brandon Pettersen, who led the Panthers in scoring last year (11.3). “We have good quickness overall,” Mead coach Glenn Williams said. “All five starters have range out to the 3-point line. We can get cookin’ and cause some teams trouble, but we must fly around on defense, push the ball and shoot well to help offset our size discrepancy.”

So how does coach Garrick Phillips replace two-time GSL MVP Brett Bailey, who averaged 23.6 ppg? By committee. The Titans return two starters in seniors Michael Isotalo and Ben Kuiper. A potential starter, senior DaShaun Boswell, moved to North Carolina. Phillips has eight seniors. “We’re a pretty experienced group with good size,” Phillips said. “Chemistry will be strong. The boys will play together and share the ball.”

The Tigers return two starters in seniors Connor Hojnacki and Colin Hardie. They have some holes to fill after graduating seven lettermen.

Coach Dan Smith has just one returning starter, but he’s the highest returning scorer in the league – senior Stu Stiles, who averaged 17.7 ppg and is capable of scoring points in bunches. With as much inexperience as the Wildcats will have, it’s not likely teams will let Stiles loose. “We have some good shooters and good speed at the guard position,” Smith said. “We have several new guys to varsity that will need to adjust quickly to playing varsity in the GSL.”

Coach Joel Soter moves over from Cheney to take over for Tim Wood, who is now the athletic director at Southridge. Wood left no returning starters and just three returning lettermen. “We’re young with very little varsity experience,” Soter said. “We will go through some growing pains but we should be competitive.”

First-year coach Jase Wambold, a former Whitworth assistant, has a big-time rebuilding project. The Indians were winless a year ago, and their top player, Foster, transferred to G-Prep. Seniors Quinn Zerba, Jimmy Weigel and Marcus Saugen – all talented football players – will be counted on heavily for leadership.

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is by Greg Lee

Predicted finish4. Shadle Park8. Mt. Spokane
1. Central Valley5. Mead9. Rogers
2. Ferris6. University10. North Central
3. Gonzaga Prep7. Lewis and Clark

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