Forty years ago, on Dec.17, 1976, the Greater Spokane League started its initial basketball season with a triple header at the Spokane Coliseum. With the merger of the three Border League schools, CV, Mead and University, aligning with the six Spokane City League schools, a new era had begun.
Central Valley, Shadle Park and University were preseason favorites to battle for the league crown. The Bears and Highlanders tipped off the night at the Coliseum, followed by Rogers and Ferris. The nightcap was North Central vs. Gonzaga Prep. Lewis and Clark and Mead had an outside game at Central Valley, while University had the first night’s bye, playing a non-leaguer at Coeur d’ Alene.
Shadle edged CV 57-53, with a transfer from Washington D.C., Donovan Mills, leading the way with 19 points. Jerry Buckenberger had 14 for the Bears. Rogers had little trouble with Ferris, winning 72-58. Jim Dorr had 17 for the Pirates, while Craig Clum netted 16 for Ferris. North Central pulled off the upset of the night, beating Prep 50-45. It broke a 15-game losing streak for the Indians, as they beat the defending City League champions for only the 2nd time in their last 22 meetings. Dave Frigaard had 19 in the win, while Ryne Sandberg provided the go ahead points late in the game. Mike Kelly had 21 for the Bullpups.
LC defeated Mead 67-47 with Jeff Eucker hitting for 18 and pulling down 20 rebounds for the Tigers. University, behind John Carrierer’s 24 points, beat the Vikings 70-51.
It was a good first night for the young GSL, and an excellent preview of what was to come in all the seasons to follow.
Shadle Park and University wound up tied for the league championship that first year with 13-3 records.