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Sandpoint’s Leiss among area coaching changes

Kent Leiss has a new lease on his coaching career.

Leiss, who resigned as the Coeur d’Alene head boys basketball coach with four games left in the season two winters ago, will take over as boys coach at Sandpoint.

He replaces Tyler Haynes, who resigned after three stints over 11 years.

“I’m a basketball junkie,” Leiss, 50, said. “I’m addicted to it. I’m too young to retire from coaching.”

Leiss will also teach at Sandpoint.

“Kent was a home run hire for us,” Sandpoint athletic director Kris Knowles said. “He lives and breathes basketball. He gets the game as well as anyone around. It’s going to be a really good fit at Sandpoint.”

Leiss coached 10 years at CdA, compiling a 140-91 record. He took four teams to state and one team finished state runner-up.

Leiss takes over a program that has had one win at state since 1966. Sandpoint has gone 28-60 the last four years.

“I like rebuilding jobs,” Leiss said. “This is my fourth rebuilding job. It’s going to be a challenge. I feel pretty rejuvenated. The year off recharged my batteries.”

There have been several other coaching changes in the area. Here are some of the other hires:

Marty Jessett takes over as head boys basketball coach at Freeman. He replaces John Graham, who resigned.

This is the fourth head coaching job for Jessett. He started coaching the St. George’s boys (1991-94), then moved on to coach the Cheney girls for nine seasons and most recently was the University boys coach (2003-06).

Jessett, 46, also was hired as a teacher at Freeman.

“Freeman has a great basketball tradition,” Jessett said. “Freeman has always intrigued me. It’s a great location and a tight-knit community. And it seems like they always have basketball players out there. And they have a good youth program.”

Jessett inherits a team that returns four starters.

“I want to go in there and build a program,” he said. “I want to use the youth program and build it up to what it’s been in the past.”

Jake Martyn takes over as girls basketball coach at North Central, replacing Gabe Medrano, who resigned.

For Martyn it’s a return home. He’s a 2000 NC graduate.

He’s coached the Burlington-Edison boys team the last three years, taking B-E to state twice, including to the quarterfinals in 2013.

“While going to college (Eastern Washington) I coached for Jay (Webber, former boys coach) for four years,” Martyn said. “I got to coach with Gabe (then an assistant to Webber).”

Medrano got the girls to state – a major breakthrough for a program that has languished over the years.

“The record might not show it the last couple of years but Gabe put a good foundation in place because he did things the right way,” Martyn said. “I know what I’m getting into. I know it won’t be easy.”

• Sandpoint has also hired a girls coach. Duane Ward, 71, a 1961 Sandpoint graduate takes over for Bill Bender, who resigned after two seasons because of a health issue in his family.

This will be Ward’s fourth stint as a head coach at Sandpoint and second go-around as girls coach. He was a head coach twice in the boys program.

“I’m passionate about basketball,” said Ward, who has coached girls at Sandpoint Middle School the last 10 years. “I’ve never really gotten out.”

After Ward retired as a teacher he has spent the last few years landscaping.

Bender coached Sandpoint to state this season – the first time since 2004. The Bulldogs also captured their first regional title since 1982.

“Bill got things going,” Ward said. “He did a great job with them. Now we’re going to try to keep it going.”

• NC has hired a volleyball coach, and they found Pat Rausch at the post office.

Rausch, 57, transferred to Spokane this year from Caldwell, Idaho. He spent two years as head coach at McKienzie High in Blue River, Ore., a little town outside Eugene.

He’s been coaching club volleyball and is involved in the USA Volleyball High Performance program. He plans to retire from the post office in late July.

“I’ll finally be able to do something I’m passionate about instead of doing something that makes me a bit of money,” Rausch said. “My plan is to stay at NC as long as NC will have me. I want to build a program and be involved in feeder programs. I want to make NC a contender again.”

All-Star games

The 18th annual Washington/North Idaho All-State girls basketball games are Saturday at the HUB Sports Center in Spokane Valley.

There will be three games. B East will take on B West at 1:30, followed by 1A East vs. 1A West at 3:30 and capped by 3A/2A East against 3A/2A West at 5:30.

All-day admission is $5 for adults and $3 for seniors 62 and over and children 12 and under.

Here are the area girls scheduled to play: B East – Kyra Antone (Wellpinit), Christine Denny (Liberty), Katie Couch (Selkirk), Mackenzi Gray (Northwest Christian), Hailey Higashi (St. George’s), Courtney Gray (NWC), Lauren Leyva (Wilbur-Creston), MacKenzie Reddish (Rosalia), Jessica Boyer (WC) and Ceci Bergquist (St. George’s). 1A East – Marisa Pace (Riverside), Sierra McGarity (Freeman), Erin Johnson (Kettle Falls) and Haley Burke (Freeman). 3A/2A East – Erin Higbie (West Valley), Jaclyn Meyers (Clarkston), Hannah Burland (East Valley), Shayna Allert (Post Falls), Alex Rankin (EV), Jada Simpson (Moscow), Keelie Lawler (Timberlake), Karlyn Summers (Priest River) and Allison Kirby (Timberlake).

Lorin Carlon of WV will coach the 3A/2A East team and Mark Rickard of St. George’s will coach B East.

Scholastic Cup

Colton repeated as a Washington Interscholastic Activities Association and Washington Army National Guard 2013-14 Scholastic Cup champion and Mead and St. George’s had runner-up finishes.

Colton, which captured five state championships, compiled 940 points to win the 1B classification.

Mead, a 2011-12 Scholastic Cup champion, finished second to Newport (Bellevue) in 4A; St. George’s was second to Bear Creek in 2B.

Other area schools with top-five finishes: Republic, 1B, 4th; Davenport, 2B, 3rd; Northwest Christian, 2B, 5th; Pullman, 2A, tie 4th; and Mt. Spokane, 3A, 4th.


Carli Riordan pitched a three-hitter, striking out 16, to lead the Spokane Mudhens to an 8-0 victory over Spokane Diamonds-Stewart for the 18-U Gold championship in the Spokane Girls Fastpitch Softball Association Summer Classic on Sunday at the Merkel Complex.

The University of Montana-bound Central Valley graduate pitched three complete games, two of them shutouts, and struck out 28 during the weekend.

In the championship game, she got support from Bradley-bound Taylor Morales, who was 3 for 3 with two RBIs and two runs scored, and University senior-to-be Brooklynn Tacke, who went 2 for 4 with two RBIs.

The Washington Angels from Kennewick won the 18-U Silver title.

MaKenna Wasteney, who will be a senior at Central Valley, pitched a five-hitter, striking out eight, as Northwest Wildfire won the 16-U Gold division 6-2 over Spokane Stealth. Spokane Crash ’00, a 14-U team playing up, won the 16-U Silver 20-6 over Spokane Sliders as Carolyn Wendel (Northwood) hit back-to-back home runs and Chloe Falciani (Lake City) hit a home run. Amanda Rouse hit a grand slam for the Sliders.

Other division finals in the 58-team tournament: 14-U Gold – Spokane Mudhens 7, Canes (Ellensburg) 2. 14-U Silver – Liberty Lake Lightning 13, Kalispell (Montana) Emeralds 11. 12-U Gold – Spokane Crash ’01 5, Tri-Cities Thunder 2. 12-U Silver – Spokane Crash ’02 12, Spokane Stealth 2. 10-U Gold – Polson (Montana) Lakers 7, Spokane Diamonds 5. 10-U Silver – Spokane Mudhens 9, Northwest Wildfire 5.

Hannah Hustad of Northwest Christian capped a standout fastpitch career recently.

As a four-year starter, Hustad finished with 1,036 strikeouts – 315 this year and 39 in three State 2B tournament games two weekends ago.