It’s been a challenging week at West Valley for Jake Love.
His basketball team was coming off a tough week that saw the Eagles drop three straight games – to Clarkston, Deer Park and Great Northern League leader Pullman.
The GNL schedule gave the team four days off before a Friday night game at Cheney, and the team was busy trying to find a way to reboot its season.
“It’s frustrating,” the four-year-starter said. “We’re a young team this year, and we’re still learning how to deal with weeks like last week. You have to put stuff behind you and not get down on yourself.
“I thought coming into this season that we were good enough to finish in the top two in this league. I still think that’s possible, but for that to happen we have to get our heads straightened out and go out and win these last five games and make something happen.”
The low point of last week was a 52-45 loss at Deer Park in which Love scored just two points.
The losses to Clarkston and Pullman, the two top teams in the league, were difficult to take, but at least understandable. But the loss to Deer Park – the Stags’ second league win of the year – hurt.
“Deer Park came out and played really well, and we didn’t,” coach Jay Humphrey said. “They did a box-and-one on him, and we didn’t do a lot to help him out.”
The coach said he took Love after the game and talked with him about his frustration. Any player who would score two dozen points below his per-game average would be frustrated by such a game, but you couldn’t tell from the way Love carries himself and the way he leads the young team.
“That’s what’s so impressive about Jake,” Humphrey said. “He’s emotionally mature, and he’s been that way for as long as he’s been here.”
That’s been Jake Love’s makeup.
Love was physically mature as a freshman, able to match-up against older, bigger players inside and get to the hoop. As a freshman starter, Love was an outstanding second option on a team that featured Brady Bagby as its primary scorer. Starting with his sophomore year, however, Love has been the first player opposing coaches circle when they draw up a game plan for facing the Eagles.
“I had two great role models, and I’ve been working hard to live up to the standard they set,” Love said. “My brother and my sister both played at West Valley, and they set the bar really high.”
Tyler Hobbs’ stellar career at West Valley in both football and basketball sent him to the University of Montana, where he finished his career as both a starting defensive tackle and a team captain for the Grizzlies. Hannah Love’s West Valley career prepared her to play basketball at North Idaho, where she helped the Cardinals reach the National Junior College Athletic Association championship tournament last spring. She’s now playing at Carroll College.
Jake Love plans to follow his siblings and play basketball in college. Where that will be, however, is an open question.
“I played summer ball last year, and I didn’t have a chance to do a whole lot with recruiting,” Love said. “So I’ve played this whole season without worrying about it. I’m just going to let the chips fall where they may.”
Several schools have been in touch, he said. Some from Division II, some from Division III. Whitworth has recently begun to recruit him.
“I’m open to whatever opportunity presents itself,” Love said. “I’d kind of like to get out of town if I can, so that I can have that full college experience.”
“That’s another sign of how emotionally mature Jake is,” his coach said. “He’s going to make a mature decision. If that means playing at a junior college for a year or two and then look at a four-year school, he’s open to doing that, too.”