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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night Clear

Wallace continues ‘surreal’ trip

One doesn’t have to be a high school athlete or coach to appreciate the delight the Wallace High girls basketball team is experiencing this week.

Wallace (19-3) is making its first trip to state in 26 years and second in school history.

“It’s all so surreal to me,” Wallace coach Art Krulitz said. “To win so many games and lose so few. We’ve never done that in Wallace. We’ve always hovered around .500.”

It’s something the Miners could get used to, to be sure. And with no seniors in the starting lineup and just one senior on the depth chart, winning could become a habit at the Silver Valley school.

The Miners should add a couple more wins to the total, beginning Wednesday when the 16-team 1A state tourney unfolds at two high schools in Nampa. North Star League and District I champ Wallace takes on Hagerman (18-6), the fourth-place finisher from District IV, at 5:15 p.m. PST at Skyview High School.

District I runner-up Kootenai (11-12) meets District V-VI runner-up Mackay (16-5) at 2 at Nampa High School.

Kootenai, making its sixth consecutive trip to state, captured the consolation title last year. So coach Doug Napierala knows what it takes to be successful at state, and he sees Wallace in the middle of things.

“I don’t know if they can win it (a state title) this year, but they stand a good chance to go far,” Napierala said. “They’ll be a contender.”

Lakeside coach Ron Miller, who has taken nine teams to state, agrees.

“They have the kind of team that could go a long way in the tournament,” Miller said. “They’ll give anybody they play problems.”

Both coaches qualified their overall statements, however. They both pointed out Wallace is making its first trip to state since the late 1970s.

“My biggest fear for them is not ever being there before,” Miller said. “It’s a different experience, a different world. The pressure’s different and the expectations are different.”

To that end, Krulitz hopes to alleviate some pressure. He hasn’t placed any expectations on his team.

“This will be a great event for those kids to go to state – just to be able to experience it and see what level of play you have to play at to be competitive,” Krulitz said. “We have no idea how we’ll do. We just want to be as competitive as we can.”

Sophomore point guard Cara Hayman, tied as the second-leading scorer (11.5 points per game) on a balanced team, believes Wallace will be ready.

“If we play up to our potential we can do well,” Hayman said. “It’s new for everybody on the team, but I think we can all step up.”

In addition to the 5-foot-2 Hayman, Wallace starts 5-8 sophomore Lisa Carver (12 ppg), 5-10 sophomore Krista Williams (11.5 ppg), 5-9 junior Shala Wild and 5-8 junior Staci Hinsz. Krulitz also is blessed with a deep bench.

“With nine kids coming back, we can’t do anything but get better next year,” Krulitz said. “We want to use this as a springboard.”

While Kootenai has become a regular state attender, Napierala is taking one of his youngest teams ever.

Sophomore point guard Cassie Scheffelmaier leads the Warriors with 18.4 ppg and freshman Hannah Nyrop is chipping in 9.6 ppg. Scheffelmaier also is averaging eight rebounds and 4.1 assists.

“We’ve come together a lot faster than I anticipated,” Napierala said.

After winning just four of their first 11, the Warriors have rebounded to take seven of their last 12.

“When we got into league we really started to gel,” Napierala said. “We haven’t set our expectations high. We just want to go down and play the way we’re capable of playing.”

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