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

Griffitts worth keeping an eye on

Coeur d'Alene's Jenna Griffitts, left, and Jenna Delong led the Vikings to a fourth-place finish at State this year.
 (File/ / The Spokesman-Review)

The new and improved Jenna Griffitts will play one final high school basketball game in her home town before venturing off to play the sport she’s loved the most all along.

It just took Griffitts a while to figure it out.

A year ago, the Coeur d’Alene High senior was spending most of her time playing on an elite club volleyball team. A year later, it’s been non-stop basketball.

She chose to play volleyball and not play for her high school basketball team or on an elite AAU team while she spent her junior year living in Scottsdale, Ariz. Griffitts, who moved back to Coeur d’Alene for her senior year, will play for the Region all-stars when they meet the heavily favored Metro all-stars Tuesday in the 12th annual Jack Blair Memorial Girls AAU All-Star Basketball Classic at Lake City High School. Tipoff is at 7:30.

Griffitts, who signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Weber State, was a starter as a freshman and sophomore in basketball and volleyball at CdA before her family moved to Arizona to be closer to her father’s job as an airline pilot based out of Denver. She returned to CdA last summer so she could graduate with her lifelong friends.

Going into her senior year, Griffitts was waffling back and forth between which sport to play in college. By the end of winter, though, she had picked basketball over volleyball.

Griffitts, a 6-foot wing, was named the Inland Empire League’s player of the year in leading the Vikings to the league and Region I championships. CdA capped a 21-4 season with a fourth-place finish at state under first-year coach Dale Poffenroth. She averaged team highs in scoring (13.6), rebounds (6.2) and free-throw shooting percentage (82 percent, 118 of 144).

The IEL’s standout would be no match for the present Griffitts.

“I’m amazed at how much I’ve improved,” said Griffitts, who has lifted weights and played basketball practically every day since late February. “I’m getting stronger and confident every day.”

The improvement was evident in early April when Griffitts scored a game-high 32 points in the state all-star game. She also won a combined boys/girls 3-point shooting contest when she made 12 rapid-fire shots in 30 seconds.

“She shot 11 3s for us the whole season,” said Poffenroth, who coached in the state game and will coach the Region team. “She may not score 32 points or make (12) 3s, but people will see how much she’s improved Tuesday.”

Poffenroth was convinced at the end of the school season that Griffitts was the best 5A player in Idaho. He’s more sure now.

“She’s every bit as good an athlete as anybody I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some good ones,” said Poffenroth, who coached 17 years at Central Valley prior to moving to CdA.

Griffitts has been determined this spring to make up for the lost time not playing a year ago.

“I’m sure I’d be better, but I don’t regret anything about last year,” she said. “I really found out that basketball was my love by going through all that I went through with volleyball.”

Griffitts played in the Spokane Stars program two years ago. Ron Adams, the program’s director and the Blair game organizer, said Weber State is getting a steal.

“Weber State is fortunate to get her because she could play in the Pac-10 and be very successful,” Adams said. “She’s easily the best player on the Region team and will be the main player the Metro team must defend.”

The Region team includes eight players from North Idaho and four from Eastern Washington. Adams calls the Metro team, which features the Greater Spokane League’s first- and second-team picks, a decisive favorite. Metro has won all 11 previous games.

“We’re definitely underdogs,” Griffitts said. “I know most of the players on the Metro team. I know their capabilities, and they’re phenomenal. But we have a lot of talent on the Region team. If we come with an attitude of working hard and enjoying it, we could do well.”

It’s an attitude that’s served Griffitts well, especially the past year.

“She’s as good as those (Metro) kids,” Poffenroth said. “How good could she be if she’d played (last year)? Missing that year didn’t hurt her in terms of where she is, but it didn’t help her to get to a Pac-10 school for instance. She didn’t get the exposure. When she first started (this year) she was rusty. But she got better and better and better and hasn’t quit playing since.”