Rick Sloan doesn’t compare teams.
Sure, the Central Valley boys basketball coach admits that his Bears have the same ingredients of the team that took second at the State 4A tournament two years ago. Heck, they’re almost a mirror image of the team that took fourth and was all-so-close to placing higher a year ago.
It makes going to practice a pleasure, Sloan said.
“They bring energy and a smile to practice,” Sloan said. “They’re unselfish kids. They’ll make the next pass to get a better shot.”
No wonder the Bears are heavily favored to capture a third straight Greater Spokane League championship.
CV returns four starters and all are seniors. Leading the way is point guard Adam Chamberlain, a first-team All-GSL pick and a second-team All-State selection a year ago.
Manning the middle is 6-foot-6 post Beau Byus, a second-team All-GSL pick last year.
Byus averaged a second-best 13.9 points per game while Chamberlain was next at 12.6.
The other returning starters are guard A.J. Knudsen and forward/guard Austin Daines. Senior Justin Fayant, a guard who came off the bench last year, takes over the spot vacated by Austin Rehkow, and senior guard Trey Carolan will fill a role off the bench.
Others expected to see time are junior guard Michael Hannan, junior forward Max Sykes and sophomore wing/forward Cameron Tucker.
“We have more depth this year than last year,” Sloan said. “We can be a solid team.”
After getting so close to a state title two years ago, Sloan knows he has another team capable of a deep postseason run.
“At the end of last year we were excited for this year,” Sloan said. “I think we’ll be a better shooting team, better scoring team and hopefully a better defensive team.”
If one thing is evident the last two years, Sloan teams don’t beat themselves.
Sloan said sometimes there are things beyond his control that can handicap a team. He pointed to the year following 2005-06 when the Bears took second in state.
“We had high hopes but we went 8-12,” Sloan said. “Our best player was injured. If we can stay healthy and avoid whatever distractions with high school kids, we can be a solid team.”
Sloan has a lot of interchangeable parts.
“I see a lot of kids who can be good contributors,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade any of them away for anybody else in the league. Our role players are every bit as valuable as Adam and Beau – for what they do for our team. The kids know where the bar is set. They have a good work ethic.”