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Catching with Maryland coach and mom

We start our women's basketball news today with an update.

We got to know the Maryland women's basketball program a few years ago when the Terrapins were the No. 1 seed in the 2008 regional at the Arena. First we found the local connection, a Valley lady whose son was an assistant coach. Then we did a story about the challenges of motherhood, focusing on coach Brenda Frese, who had just delivered twins. Then, of course, Stanford and Maryland played an epic game with the Cardinal earning the berth to the Final Four.

 Well, I've stumbled into a story by Milton Nelson to update you on the twins Frese delivered a month before arriving in Spokane. The boys are now 2 and sadly the story I found on fanhouse.com, dated Dec. 24, is about Tyler and his battle with lukemia. Sure puts the game in perspective.

Our notebook today was about EWU senior Tatjana Sparavalo (EWU photo above). We'll have links for the weekend games on Thursday.

AM: Clark, EWU Brings Home Title

Doug Clark was able to find an Eastern Washington University band uniform to fit on his body after practice Thursday in Cheney.At left areformer student Holly Amend and EWU band uniform manager Amanda Goede. Clark, an EWU alum, traveled to Frisco, Texas, with the band to perform during the Eagles 20-19 victory in the national championship game with Delaware. You can read his column here. (SR photo: Dan Pelle)

Good wins for area women

The Eastern Washington women's basketball team began defense of its Big Sky Conference title by beating Portland State at Reese Court. The win came despite a sub-par performance from reigning league MVP Julie Piper, although she came through when it counted.

Washington State got its first Pac-10 win, pulling away at Oregon State, and Gonzaga started after  its seventh straight WCC title by rolling at Portland.

Next game for the local teams is at Idaho Monday when defending WAC champion Fresno State visits. EWU, GU on road next weekend, No. 4 Stanford and Cal call on Cougars.

EWU 20, Delaware 19 (Final)

Delaware running back Andrew Pierce (30) jumps over Eastern Washington cornerback Jesse Hoffman (21) during the first half of the FCS Championship football game tonight in Frisco, Texas. After trailing 19-0 in the third quarter, EWU scored 20 straight points to win 20-19. ESPN game activity & score here (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Bo Levi Mitchell led three straight late touchdown drives, the finale coming with 2:47 left, leading Eastern Washington a 20-19 victory over Delaware and its first FCS championship. The Eagles (13-2) trailed 19-0 and had gained only 92 yards midway through the third quarter Saturday night. Facing the defense that gave up the fewest points per game in the FCS, their title hopes looked shot. But Mitchell took them on drives of 80, 89 and 69 yards. He converted a fourth-and-8 on the second of those series and needed two video replays to uphold a fourth-and-1 conversion a few plays before the winning touchdown. Delaware (12-3) — with Vice President Joe Biden, an alum, watching five rows behind the team’s bench — had one last try, but turned the ball over on downs with 47 seconds left/Steve Bergum, SR.


Are You Ready For Some Football?

EWU fans cheer the arrival of the team at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco Texas for the National Championship game against Delaware in Frisco Texas this afternoon. Eastern Washington and Delaware will kick off at 4 o'clock today. (SR photo: Christopher Anderson)

Question: Who wins?

Women’s basketball & the Walter brothers

It's time to prepare you for the first full weekend of women's basketball conference games, but I'm going to take a detour first.

What a great morning to wake up to the first installment of the Fabulous (not) Baker Boys trip Frisco, Texas, as they follow the Eagles for the FCS champions game. I'm thrilled for the Eastern Washington football team and can't wait for the championship game - the only downside is that is no longer my beat. The upside is I get to enjoy it through the eyes of EWU alumns and my good friends Ralph and Jess Walter. You can read the first installment of their roadtrip and keeping checking to read their updates on the Road to Frisco. That also gives you the opportunity to go back in time for their trip to Kansas City when the Eagles made the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in 2004. You'll know why Jess is a great author and wonder what Ralph does for a living besides caddy for Jess. Enjoy

Now, back to basketball. Keep reading.

Conference season set to start

Gonzaga, Eastern Washington and Idaho start conference play this week with tough games, the subject of our women's basketball notebook.

Lots of news in women’s basketball

It’s a fun time in women’s basketball with Spokane on the edge of the excitement, three months before two weekends of the NCAA Tournament is going to be here.

The UConn juggernaut continues to roll … winning its 88th straight on Tuesday, led by Maya Moore, who squared off against the Spokane Stars several times a few summers back.

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer is likely to win her 800th game tonight … and mentioned one of the memorable wins came in Spokane.

U-Hi grad Angie Bjorklund could become Tennessee’s all-time leader in 3-pointers tonight … she’s four short of the record.

And Gonzaga (and Claire Rapp in the Colin Mulvany photo above) is finding its form … rolling feature league rival BYU 91-64 on Tuesday. As junior forward Kelly Bowen said, “I think we’re nearly there. Coach said that’s the best he’s seen us play. … If we’re not there right now, we’re pretty close.”

There’s more.

Women’s basketball weekend roundup

We’re here to catch you up on the weekend’s women’s basketball news, which includes this week’s Top 25 vote.

Updated with honors for Kayla Standish (No. 32, left, in photo), Kate Loper and Angie Bjorklund. And as long as we’re stumbling around, here’s tons of information on the Tennessee at Baylor game, with the UT site including an video interview with Bjorklund.

PM Headlines — 12.10.10

Eastern Washington football coach Beau Baldwin congratulates Mario Brown after his fourth-quarter TD in last week’s playoff win against Southeast Missouri State. Baldwin was only 11 years old when his father died unexpectedly of a major heart attack. Now, he’s poised to lead his No. 1-ranked Eagles against North Dakota State at Roos Field Saturday in the I-AA quarterfinals. Steve Bergum tells the remarkable story of the EWU coach here.

GU at EWU tonight; record for Zack

Some women’s basketball news to catch up with from Thursday, with several local players having big nights.

First, the game tonight is Gonzaga at Eastern Washington. It’s the first home game for the Eagles after five straight on the road. We’ll miss that one for hockey duties but we’ll get the word out through Twitter (SRtrim) as time permits from the Arena.

Sophomore Katie Baker (Lake City) had 19 points and 12 rebounds as Montana, which hosts Gonzaga on Sunday, beats Denver at the buzzer. … Senior Kelli Valentine (Mead), who was honored before the game for surpassing 1,000 points, had a big second half as Portland State beat Hawaii. … Senior Dara Zack (University) responded to being named the Great Northwest Conferce Player of the Week with a conference record 12 offensive rebounds among her 20 boards as Saint Martin’s edged Central Washington to open league play. Zack had 14 points and senior Roni Jo Mielke (Sprague-Harrington) had a game-high 19; freshman Kelsi Jacobson (East Valley) had 11 off the bench for Central.

Zags crush EWU

Gonzaga rolled to a 49-20 halftime lead and cruised the rest of the way, defeating Eastern Washington 86-57 on Tuesday.

Steven Gray hit his first six 3-pointers and finished with 18 points. Rob Sacre and Mathis Monninghoff each had 13 and Sam Dower added 11. GU made 58 percent of its shots.

Jeffrey Forbes led EWU with four 3-pointers and 18 points. Kevin Winford chipped in 11 points.

Game story in about 90 minutes.

EWU women visit Idaho tonight

Eastern Washington visits Idaho tonight for a women’s basketball game.

I have confirmation that Nikki Nelson, a redshirt junior at New Mexico, will miss the season because of a preseason ACL injury. That’s why the Chewelah grad, who played one season at Mead, redshirted as a freshman. No idea if it’s the same knee or how she was injured. Finally, Lewis and Clark senior Hayley Hendricksen is  headed to Saint Mary’s next year. I really enjoyed the intensity of the No. 2 Baylor-No. 1 UConn game last night. There’s plenty of stories for that and if you watched any of that, or even the GU men’s game, there was plenty of studio discussion … did you watch, what are your thoughts? And yes, a couple of players that had a hand in UConn’s last loss will be here on Sunday.

Cougar women thumped

Sunday afternoon, time to start finalizing weekly women’s basketball poll. Big question - does Gonzaga get ranked after losing opener at USC? The Bulldogs won’t be in the top 25, they were just outside in the AP poll and a loss certainly won’t move them back in. Will they drop out of coach’s poll?

Meanwhile, three games today for area teams and the first is in. Washington State loses at UC Davis, which is helped by the 14 points of senior Heidi Heintz (CV). Most disturbing is the score, 77-38. Eastern Washington gets pounded on the boards (not so good with 34% shooting) and loses 77-58 at home to Portland. Tara Cronin (GPrep) has 3 points and Sarah Kliewer (LC) has 2 for the Pilots. 

Gonzaga women are up so far at half, not coming back for an update. Mixed day for area high school alums. Check twitter, SRtrim.

Eastern women win opener

Six players scored in double figures, led by Tatjana Sparavalo’s 16 points to go with 11 rebounds, as Eastern Washington opened its women’s basketball season with an 80-70 win over Cal State Fullerton Friday night. (It was a late game, doubleheader with the men, and we may not have a link tonight.)

Gonzaga led by seven at halftime but couldn’t put the game away and USC out-played the Bulldogs, ranked 22nd in the coach’s poll, for a 79-73 win in Los Angeles Friday afternoon.

 Washington State loses at Saint Mary’s 73-69.

For updates on area players (we know LC grad Lyndi Seidersticker had a big game in a loss and GPrep grad Tara Cronin led Portland in a win, Post Falls frosh Katie Loper had an impressive debut in Hofstra loss), check Twitter, SRtrim.

EWU to honor women’s team, Pac-10 announces schedule

We’re stilling waiting to wrap-up the recruiting news for the area women’s basketball teams.

Only Washington State announced on Wednesday, Idaho came in Thursday morning.  Eastern Washington expected later today, Gonzaga probably Friday.

Still, there is plenty of news as the season starts tomorrow, leading off with Gonzaga at USC in an afternoon game. Also, Eastern Washington will honor is NCAA Tournament team from almost 25 years ago at Sunday’s game, a nice tribute. By the way, the Pac-10/12 has announced its basketball schedules for when the 10 is erased.

Many more notes below.

Women sweep exhibitions

No surprises as long as we judge on W’s and L’s, the area women’s basketball teams won their exhibition games.

Gonzaga, Eastern and Idaho won handily, Washington State struggled.

One list has Courtney Vandersloot of Gonzaga as the No. 13 on a list of NCAA WNBA Draft prospects. There is more, a couple other exhibition games and notes, on the extended entry.

INW: Stiff-arming Foster Care’s Stats

Eastern Washington University football player Darriell Beaumonte is thankful for the help and support provided over the years by his foster mother, “Big Mama” Zena Sturgis. Beaumonte’s Facebook profile includes a picture of himself with Sturgis, right, and Star Sturgis. Steve Bergum’s SR story here. (SR Photo: Dan Pelle)

HBO Poll: Both Football Fields ‘Awful’

  • Tuesday Poll: Readers in Hucks Nation overwhelmingly consider the blue football turf of Boise State and the new red turf of Eastern Washington to be “awful.” 102 of 158 respondents (64.6%) said that both fields were awful. Of the other options available, 31 of 158 (19.6%) picked BSU’s field as attractive. 14 of 158 (8.9%) think the new EWU field is attractive. Only 5 of 132 (3.2%) consider both fields attractive. 6 respondents were undecided.
  • Lewiston Tribune Poll: 372 of 569 respondents (65%) supported Judge John Bradbury’s decision to send ConocoPhillips mega-load permits back to Idaho Transportation Department.
  • Today’s Poll: Now that the combat phase in Iraq is over, do you support the growing U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan?

The water wars: Franklin County farmers sue over large feedlot’s water demand…

Local farmers today filed a lawsuit against a large-scale feedlot in Franklin County, saying that the cattle operation could use hundreds of thousands of gallons of groundwater a day in one of the driest areas of the state.

The case could mushroom into more than just a Franklin County water fight. A critical change in water law came when Attorney General Rob McKenna — widely assumed to be a future candidate for governor — issued a controversial opinion in 2005. Wells for watering livestock have for decades been exempt from many water regulations, but the state Department of Ecology had long said that such wells are limited to pumping 5,000 gallons a day. In response to a query from Sen. Bob Morton, R-Kettle Falls and then-Rep. (now Sen.) Janea Holmquist, R-Moses Lake, McKenna, however, said that Ecology didn’t have the right to automatically limit such wells to 5,000 gallons. (McKenna also, however, noted that Ecology could step in and impose limits on any water withdrawal in critical problem areas. He also pointed out that lawmakers can modify water law however they wish.)

Now, according to the Spokane-basede Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Easterday Ranches Inc. wants to build a feedlot for up to 30,000 head of cattle, using the stock-watering exemption to pump up to 600,000 gallons a day.

“after over 100 years of conservative farming on some of the driest land in Washington, our lives and our livelihoods are in jeopardy from this huge industrial feedlot,” dryland wheat farmer Scott Collin said in a press release announcing the lawsuit today.

(The full text of the press release is below, after the jump.)

NCAA Puts EWU On Probation

The Eastern Washington University football program has been put on three years probation and is banned from postseason due to what the NCAA calls “major violations.” The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions released the report on Wednesday. The violations include impermissible participation by ineligible student-athletes in practice activities, the use of too many countable coaches, failure to monitor by former head coach Paul Wulff, now the head coach at Washington State, and a lack of institutional control and failure to monitor by the university/SR. More here.

Question: Does this color your view of second-year Washington State coach Paul Wulff?

Proposed for the chopping block: the state’s only women’s prison east of the Cascades….

From tomorrow’s paper:

Citing the state’s budget woes, prison officials want to close Pine Lodge Corrections Center for Women, Washington’s only women’s prison east of the Cascade Mountains.

As early as next summer, the state would start transferring roughly 350 inmates to a prison near Vancouver. About 140 workers would have to shift to jobs elsewhere or be laid off.

“It was pretty clear that based on the fiscal constraints we’re going to be facing, that we need to close a facility,” said Dick Morgan, director of the state Department of Corrections’ prisons division.

Pine Lodge, located in Medical Lake, includes some aging buildings that need costly renovations, he said, “so it became the most likely candidate.”

The state would save about $14 million over the next two years, he said.

Although state lawmakers will have the final say, Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed billions of dollars in reduced spending over the next two years, forcing state agencies to find ways to wring that money from their budgets.

Pine Lodge superintendent Walker Morton said he’s urging staff at the minimum custody prison to try not to worry, that it’s just a proposal. If the prison closes, he said, he’s been told it wouldn’t take place until February of 2010.

“We just have to keep our eyes and ears open until the legislators do their thing,” he said.

Morton met with the prison’s inmates Tuesday and told them the news. Most were understanding, he said.

Closing Pine Lodge is only one facet of Gregoire’s proposed $125 million in savings at the Department of Corrections. And the agency isn’t alone; the Department of Social and Health Services is trying to figure out how to cut spending by nearly $1.3 billion; the Department of Health by $75 million.

Morgan said prison officials would be happy to consider money-saving alternatives to closing Pine Lodge. But the state is facing 1,000 fewer inmates than expected, Morgan said, and in the face of a massive budget shortfall, its hard to justify keeping all the prisons open.

News of the proposal, which initially trickled out in phone calls and emails, stunned workers.
“Some people can’t believe this,”said Dawnel Southwick, a secretary supervisor at the prison for the past 9 years. “This facility is not the run-down, broken-down, not-going-to-survive-until-next-week facility that they’re making it out to be.”

“These are good, family-wage jobs,” said Matthew Pederson, executive director of the West Plains chamber of commerce.

The state has two prisons with female inmates in Western Washington. The Washington State Corrections Center for Women is near Gig Harbor, and Mission Creek is near Shelton.

“I’ve never heard of them closing a prison,” said Marye Jorgenson, who works in Pine Lodge’s records department. “You keep up hope that if people fight hard and long enough, we can hang on, hopefully through this recession.”

The Washington Federation of State Employees, which represents most of the workers, said that the state should instead be looking at ways to bring more money into the state treasury.

“I don’t think we can cut our way out of this huge deficit,” said union spokesman Tim Welch. One obvious place to look, he said, are the “huge tax loopholes” for businesses.

For inmates from Eastern Washington, the transfer to Larch Corrections Center would mean being hundreds of miles away from loved ones.

“It’s going to devastate families, and most women in prison have children,” said Nora Callahan, executive director of the November Coalition, a sentencing-reform group based in Colville. “If you move them to where you can’t see them in a day and get home, most people won’t be able to afford to visit.”

Morgan concedes that the move could be tough on Eastern Washington families. But he said most inmates – like most Washingtonians – are from the western side of the state.