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

Success follows Dale Poffenroth across the border

 (The Spokesman-Review)
Vince Grippi The Spokesman-Review

Dale Poffenroth needed a change.

After 17 years at Central Valley High, after winning 384 games, after bringing home three Washington state girls basketball titles, he wanted to get back to what he loved best: geometry.

Say what you will about Poff, he knows what’s really important to a high school coach.


That’s why, after 33 years in the profession, he’s really happy to be at Coeur d’Alene High.

A few years back CV switched to an integrated math system. The old math ladder – algebra, geometry, algebra II – went the way of the two-hand set shot.

“I taught that new system for a year, and was pretty much a hypocrite,” he said. “I didn’t believe what we were teaching kids was good.

“That’s a big driver because you spend a lot of time in the classroom, and Coeur d’Alene has the same system that CV used to have. … It’s very important, because you can’t be in a classroom and telling kids that what they’re doing is good for them and you come home at night saying ‘You know what, I don’t think I taught them anything today.’ “

Crossing the border not only brought back Old School Math , it also brought a return to Old School Hoops. The girls in Idaho don’t have a shot clock, something Washington’s girls have used for years.

The location has changed and so has Poffenroth’s coaching style, albeit only slightly

“I thought the change would be pretty drastic, but it really hasn’t been,” Poffenroth said. “We play an up-tempo game (still) but if we don’t get the shot we want, we just set it back up. With the 30-second clock, if you get a shot that looks like a pretty good one, you better take it.”

So, after a half-year, is he pro- or anti-clock?

“From the standpoint of coaching and sportsmanship, to not have the clock … is a good thing for high school, maybe,” he said. “But, then you look at the kids that are all going to go on the next level, and that level has a clock. So if you are preparing kids for the next level, and you don’t have a clock, are you really doing them a favor?”

But there is one plus with not having a clock: fewer blowouts.

“With the clock, you don’t have as much control over the final score, unless you just throw the ball out of bounds on purpose. Now you have control over those kinds of things,” Poffenroth said.

This year the Viks have one blowout win, a 72-27 rout of Kellogg. Although they may not be overpowering opponents, they are 12-3, putting them, figuratively, in the same area code as the best in the Greater Spokane League, University (ranked second in Washington) and Lewis and Clark (third).

So how would Poff’s bunch do in the GSL?

“We would be in that mix for third,” he said. “It is all about the matchups. Someone asked me recently if we could beat (LC) and I said it would be fun to try.”

The Viks’ strengths? Their quickness and the fact that “they are just really nice kids,” Poff said.

Their biggest problem is they aren’t big. Their only 6-footer is freshman Deanna Dotts, whom Poffenroth feels has advanced quickly and is really contributing.

Another freshman, 5-5 Ali Johnson, starts in the backcourt, while 5-11 senior transfer Jenna Griffitts, who returned to the area after time spent in Arizona, is the best athlete on the squad.

Those three, who weren’t walking the CdA halls during last year’s 2-19 campaign, have meshed well with a core of quick returnees. Mix in Poff’s brand of basketball – fastbreak whenever possible, defend inside-out – and the result is the hot start.

The Viks probably don’t have enough size and, with Griffitts their only senior, the experience to compete with Borah (which pounded CdA 63-32 early in the year) and Boise in the state. But don’t count them out come tournament time.