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Saturday, February 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: If this week isn’t the best of the sports year, it’s at least in the top five

Gonzaga Prep's Devin Culp finishes a drive to the hoop with a dunk during quarterfinal action in the 4A Boys State Basketball Tournament Thursday, March 1, 2018, at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Wash. Gonzaga Prep defeated Skyview 59-52 to advance. It was Culp's only 2 points of the game. (Patrick Hagerty / Patrick Hagerty)
Gonzaga Prep's Devin Culp finishes a drive to the hoop with a dunk during quarterfinal action in the 4A Boys State Basketball Tournament Thursday, March 1, 2018, at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Wash. Gonzaga Prep defeated Skyview 59-52 to advance. It was Culp's only 2 points of the game. (Patrick Hagerty / Patrick Hagerty)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • If you love sports, this might be your favorite week of the year. It has to be in the top five. There are so many stories, so many subjects, so many stories to get through, it’s like Christmas and Easter melded together. Read on.


• You want presents wrapped in chocolate?

OK, we have it. Or the printed equivalent.

There is Washington State’s win last night in Pullman which not only made Cougar fans happy because, you know, they won a basketball game, but also served the dual purpose of ensuring Oregon won’t make the NCAA tournament. (You lose March 1 to the 170th RPI team in the NCAA ratings and you want an at-large berth? Forgetaboutit.)

Sadly, the Cougar women couldn’t join in the fun, but they did celebrate Senior Night in Seattle, though their season came to end with a 47-44 loss to USC. The regularly scheduled senior festivities had to be canceled last week, along with the Stanford game, when conditioning coach David Lang died suddenly.

Washington State tried to give its seniors a happy memory but came up just short against the Trojans.

Speaking of memories, all over Washington and Idaho this weekend, high school seniors are playing their final basketball game with their friends, trying to pull together one last time for a state title. If you don’t think this week is a culmination of a life-long dream, you’re wrong in so many cases.

I personally know of kids who began playing together in Y games as kindergartners and are still together 12 seasons later. That’s a long time. If there are tears shed after the last game of the year, it’s easy to understand why.

And if you want tears of joy, then there are a few lines in John Blanchette’s column today that will entice those as well. It’s an annual event, John’s Academy Award column, which intertwines movies and sports. For some reason there are always way too many sporting events and occurrences that invite satire – and John finds them.

Otherwise, just get to the links below. I’ve read just about every story, so I can honestly say there have been few days in the past with more ground to cover. 


WSU: Malachi Flynn is playing his best basketball of the season and, in a related note, so are the Cougars. Theo Lawson has the game story of the Cougars’ 78-76 win over Oregon at Beasley. Theo also has video of interviews with coach Ernie Kent and three players afterward. … We have a story to pass along on the season-ending loss for the women as well as Stefanie Loh’s story from Seattle. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, there is some good news for the conference. … Sean Miller made a defiant statement yesterday and then his Arizona team made one of its own with a dominating win over Stanford in Tucson. The whole situation is ugly and could get uglier in the weeks ahead. … Arizona State had no trouble with California. … Washington stayed together for coach Mike Hopkins and held off visiting Oregon State. … Utah meets Colorado this weekend but all eyes are on the Pac-12 tournament. … Whoever wins the matchup between UCLA and USC will gain a boost towards the NCAAs. Both teams are led by outstanding players. … In football news, Stanford’s outgoing quarterback found a new home.

Gonzaga: Contributing to the crowded schedule this week is the WCC postseason tournaments, for the men and the women. Jim Meehan has a story concerning the men and what is on the line in Las Vegas starting Saturday night. … Whitney Ogden covers the same ground with the women, who have their first game this evening against Pepperdine. Their games will be on a different radio station this week. … There are a lot of other things to do in Vegas besides watch hoop (or gamble), though as a basketball junkie, I can’t see why you would want to do anything else. … John has another column on the city and its relationship with the WCC. … Jim caught up with Zach Collins and a couple other NBA standout Zags this week. … Around the WCC, the biggest point of discussion in the conference, and the Mountain West, is Gonzaga’s possible switch. The Mountain West people are excited. The WCC folks? Not so much. … San Diego needs a stabilizing force and it’s being provided. … Can BYU make a run at the tournament?

EWU: The Eagles are playing their best basketball of the season right now as well, and that bodes well for the Big Sky tournament next week. They ensured a first-round bye last night with a 74-51 win over Southern Utah at Reese Court. Jim Allen has the game story. … The women will also have a bye. … Around the Big Sky, Montana won the regular season title by rolling over Weber State. … Montana State rolled over against Idaho State. … North Dakota got past Sacramento State. … Northern Colorado picked up win No. 20 at the expense of Portland State.

Idaho: Despite foul trouble for star Victor Sanders, the Vandals had little trouble with woeful Northern Arizona, winning 66-52. Peter Harriman has the game coverage from Moscow. … Former Eastern defensive assistant John Graham has found a spot on the Idaho staff. Jim Allen has the story.

Whitworth: The Pirates are in familiar territory in more ways than one, starting tonight at Whitman. Jim has a preview of the first weekend of NCAA Division III play.

Preps: Reading about the high school basketball tournaments dominated my time this morning, sort of like how Central Valley’s girls dominated Kentlake yesterday in Tacoma. Dave Nichols has that story from the 4A ranks, along with a piece on University’s loss to Moses Lake and Gonzaga Prep’s tight win over Skyview and Lewis and Clark’s win over Enumclaw. Both are in tonight’s semifinals. … The 2A girls and boys and 1A boys and girls are in action in Yakima. … At the Arena in 2B action, Greg Lee has coverage of the boys, including a story on Liberty’s late win. Steve Christilaw has the girls, highlighted by Davenport’s victory. In 1B action, Kevin Dudley covers the girls, where Colton bombed away from the outside. And Jim Allen the 1B boys, as Pomeroy shot down Odessa. … In Idaho, Post Falls moved into the 5A semifinals with a win over Centennial. … Back to the Arena, Ryan Collingwood has a story on Gonzaga commit Brock Ravet, who I have the pleasure of watching close up all summer. 

Mariners: Another lead given up in the late innings. Maybe it’s too early to have worries but maybe not. … There was an important inning pitched yesterday. … Felix Hernandez should recovery in a short time.

Seahawks: Is Michael Bennett available? Sure he is. … Pete Carroll is positive Earl Thomas is one of his favorite players. … He also made changes for Russell Wilson.

Sounders: Seattle moved on in the Champions League with a 4-0 win at home last night.


• I hope you had plenty of time to devote to reading this morning. It was needed. Until later …

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