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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spark of the team

Coeur d'Alene High's Jenna Griffitts has been playing basketball since she was in the fourth grade.
 (Tom Davenport/ / The Spokesman-Review)
Dave Buford Correspondent

Jenna Griffitts of Coeur d’Alene has a knack for being in charge.

As the sole senior on the Coeur d’Alene High School varsity girls basketball team, she hopes to lead the team to a state win.

“I have a role that I need to accomplish,” said Griffitts, 18. “I just need to have fun and lead them.”

During practice, she pushes each player by guarding their shots and keeping her tone of voice serious.

But she’s also quick to give encouraging words. After a hard loss their second game of the season, she pulled her teammates aside in the locker room.

She told them they had room to grow through the season and not to let the loss bring them down.

“We just have to know what level we have to become to be state champions and win a state title,” she said.

Dale Poffenroth, varsity coach, said Griffitts’ game is at a level among the best he’s seen in his 33 years of coaching.

She leads the floor in team statistics, and has a heap of natural talent to work with. He said Griffitts has a lot to improve on, but she’s still the spark of the team.

“You need those kind of kids and they’re hard to find,” he said.

Griffitts started playing basketball in fourth grade on a club team. Now, she competes against some of the girls from the club team who play on the Lake City High School team.

As a freshman, she tried out for basketball and made the varsity team. She played through her sophomore year and into the summer on a Spokane club team before moving to Arizona.

While she was out of state, she chose to stay out of basketball so she could play on a club volleyball team that ran through the basketball season.

“I was going to play, but it was too hard for me to miss some of my volleyball and some of my basketball,” she said. “I just wanted to give 100 percent to one sport.”

But when she came back her senior year, she was determined to get back into basketball.

She said she loves battling with the other team, running the court and making the contact with the other players.

She was out of practice during her year away from the sport, but she played a summer league with her high school before moving back to Coeur d’Alene.

“It wasn’t extremely hard, but I can tell playing this year that I could have been a little better than I am right now coming into the season,” she said.

Griffitts’ greatest strength is her rebound, aided by her 23-inch vertical jump. She’s helping her team in its state-championship goal, scoring about 12 points a game with a team average of 50 points a game.

In the meantime, her biggest mission off the court is to land a scholarship long after deadlines and scouts have made their rounds. When she’s not on the court or in class, she’s on the phone putting in calls to colleges for unclaimed sports scholarships.

So far, a half-dozen schools have shown interest in her, including North Idaho College, for her volleyball skills. But she’s keeping an eye out for Division I schools across the country before making any deals.

“I’m just leaving my options open and seeing what I get from either sport,” she said.

Poffenroth also is making calls and helping her seek out scholarships. He’s sent 21 kids to Division I schools on scholarships and said Griffitts has what it takes to be the 22nd.

“The kid’s just got a super personality,” he said. “When you talk to her, you can’t help but like her.”