The choice was all his, and Ryan Monroe never hesitated about following his dad to Riverside High.
Riverside hired Brent Monroe away from Chelan High for the 1991-92 boys basketball season. The Monroes found a house in the Mead area and enrolled seventh-grade Ryan in the Mead School District.
Yet Ryan never wavered in his desire to play for his dad. He transferred to the Chattaroy school as a sophomore.
“It was totally up to me, but it wasn’t much of a decision,” said Ryan, whose choices appear equally wise on and off the basketball court.
Monroe (19.5 points per game through Feb. 8) is in line to win the Frontier League scoring title and graduate as co-valedictorian from his class. An A-minus in advanced junior English during his sophomore year mars an otherwise perfect record.
Ryan’s excellence in both areas has eased any tension Brent might have faced about coaching his son.
“Everyone knows what kind of basketball skills he has,” Brent said. “He’s a great student, too.
“For me, it’s been wonderful because I’ve been able to spend some extra time with him.”
Showing he’s no glory-monger on the court, Ryan led the Rams in assists as a sophomore and junior and is No. 2 this season.
Riverside nearly qualified for the State AA Tournament last year with a roster featuring seven seniors, including league scoring champion Kasey Ahrens. This year, despite Ryan’s leadership, the Rams have slogged to a 5-12 record - 3-6 in league after a weekend sweep of firstplace Colville and last-place East Valley.
The tone for Riverside’s year was set in the first two games, both overtime losses. Three weeks ago the Rams lost senior Micah Lundberg to a season-ending knee injury. Lundberg and Monroe were the roster players with the most experience.
Lundberg’s injury has allowed teams to play a box-and-one defense on Monroe. Until he scored 32 in last Friday’s upset win over Colville, Monroe’s league scoring average was off more than 2 points per game since Lundberg’s absence.
“I’ve gone against a lot of that (box-and-one),” Ryan said. “It’s been hard to adjust to.
“I think we easily have as much talent as everyone else (in the league), but we just don’t have experience.”
“Despite our record,” Brent said, “it’s been fun with these kids because they’re willing to work.”
Riverside may take a few licks this year, but the Rams could be back toward the top next season. When the state adds a fifth classification, Riverside will go from being a small Class AA school to a large 2A.
Brent said his future plans with Riverside depend on several factors, but he still wants to be around and help kids. Ryan’s 14-year-old sister will attend Mead’s new Mount Spokane High School.
Ryan has been accepted to several four-year, liberal arts colleges, including Whitworth. He hopes to study international business and play competitive basketball in school.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
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