Until last season, it had been a more than a dozen years since Central Valley High had won a Greater Spokane League boys’ basketball title.
The Bears must have enjoyed the experience, as they decided to do it again.
CV clinched its second consecutive league title Tuesday night at Ferris, building a lead that reached 21 points before holding off a late Saxon charge to ease to a 72-54 win.
“The more you’re into this, the more you realize they are all sweet,” said veteran CV coach Rick Sloan, who has won four league titles in his 17 seasons at the school. “When you first start coaching you think you are going to get them every year but you realize they are few and far between.”
The first step in the win over Ferris (14-5 overall and 12-5 in GSL play) was to limit the scoring opportunities of Cody Benzel. The 6-foot-3 junior came in averaging nearly 20 points in Saxon wins and 12.5 in losses, including a season-low four in CV’s 54-34 home win in early January.
Despite constant hounding by A.J. Knudsen and Adam Chamberlain and some foul trouble, Benzel still led the Saxons with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists.
But Ferris was undone by 15 turnovers, including 10 in the decisive first half. In a 26-8 Central Valley run spanning the end of the first and most of the second quarter, the Bears defense forced six turnovers and converted them into eight points.
In that 9-minute stretch, CV (18-1, 16-1) was also nearly perfect in its offensive execution, passing the ball crisply and converting 11 of 16 shots.
“It was that second quarter when we started (sharing the ball) a little bit, getting some inside-out looks,” said Sloan, whose team has a two-game lead on Gonzaga Prep going into Thursday’s final league game. “That’s pretty important.”
Not only do the Bears share the ball well – they assisted on 18 of their 27 baskets – they also have a triumvirate that can score consistently.
Inside is 6-6 Beau Byus, who, despite playing less than half the second half (he was whistled for three fouls in the first 3 minutes after halftime) finished with 16 points and six rebounds. On the outside is Austin Rehkow, who hit half his eight 3-point attempts en route to 19 points.
And in charge of it all is junior point guard Adam Chamberlain, who got CV started with 13 first-quarter points. He finished with 22 and added seven assists, both game highs.
“Adam does a great job of getting it to everybody,” Rehkow said of Chamberlain, who was a key reserve last season. “He does the same things as last year but he also is a great slasher who has found the right balance. He’s doing a great job running the point.”
Gonzaga Prep 70, Rogers 57: The visiting Bullpups (15-4, 14-3) outscored the Pirates (3-16, 2-15) 40-26 in the second half. Sam Dowd led G-Prep with 23 points and Brendan McClary and Jake Groh had 15 each. Amaujae Daniels led Rogers with 21 points.
Mead 57, Mt. Spokane 40: The Wildcats (7-12, 6-11) opened an 18-9 lead in the first quarter but couldn’t sustain it as the Panthers (10-9, 8-9) roared back. Mead secured the fourth seed to district. Brandon Pettersen led Mead with 18 points and Thomas Kautzman had 17. Jordan Weems led Mt. Spokane with 11.
Shadle Park 43, North Central 34: Skyler Kelley made 6 of 6 foul shots in the fourth quarter as the visiting Highlanders (10-9, 9-8) secured the win. Kelley led with 17 points. Ryan Hauenstein led NC (0-19, 0-17) with 10.
University 61, Lewis and Clark 46: The visiting Titans (13-6, 12-5) eliminated the Tigers (8-11, 6-11) from postseason consideration. Brett Bailey led U-Hi with 17 points and five rebounds and Joseph Carrieres had 12 points. Brennan Schon led LC with 17.