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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Bill Pierce’s almanac: Marv Ainsworth era was impressive

University High School opened its doors in the fall of 1962 and chose Valley native Marv Ainsworth to guide its basketball fortunes. It turned out to be a very good choice.

Ainsworth played high school ball at Central Valley in the 1940s under coach Ray Thacker.  He was on two state tournament teams while there, earning a second team all-state selection in his junior year. He was a three-sport athlete at the school and the student body president.

After high school, Ainsworth served in the Navy. He then attended the University of Idaho, before graduating from Eastern Washington.

His coaching success at U-Hi was immediate. The 1962-63 team, without a senior, had a winning season. The following year the young school joined the Spokane City League with a bang, winning its first four games.

The Titans were in the City League from 1963 through 1968. In their final year they won the league championship, defeating eventual state champion Central Valley for the crown.

In 1968, University became a member of the Border League, where it became the dominant team. Ainsworth led the Titans to league championships in seven of the eight years of the league’s existence. His 1975 team starring Mike Barrett, Jim Bjorklund and Doug Steck, took third in state, losing a close state semifinal game to Everett in Seattle.

In 1976, University became a member of the Greater Spokane League, and was co-champion in the league’s first year.  In 1980, the Titans took sixth at State.

Ainsworth continued as U-Hi’s coach through the 1981-82 season. In 20 years at the school his record was 303-156, with nine league titles. Ainsworth was known for his calm demeanor and it was said he proved you don’t have to yell and scream to be an effective coach.

After leaving University, Ainsworth was the Whitworth women's coach for four years. He then guided the fortunes of the Priest River girls for two more seasons. In 1990 he was inducted into the Washington State Coaches Hall of Fame.

Marv Ainsworth passed away in 1991. His longtime assistant at University, Bill Ames, said at the time, “As a person, one of the finest I know.”

Bill Pierce
Bill Pierce is a sports blogger who writes the weekly nwprepsnow prep sports almanac.

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