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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Lee: Local teams will heat up the winter

Full disclosure: I wasn’t mentally ready for the winter sports season to begin.

Perhaps, more accurately, I wasn’t ready to start covering winter sports.

Now that I’ve jumped into the winter season headfirst, though, it appears there will be several girls and boys basketball and wrestling teams in Eastern Washington and North Idaho contending for state championships.

I watched three basketball games last week, caught another Tuesday and will see games Friday and Saturday before taking a couple of weeks off during the holidays.

A few early basketball observations:

Potentially the two best boys basketball teams in the area hooked up last Saturday at Post Falls when the defending Idaho 5A state champion Trojans knocked off Ferris 72-67. The Saxons were playing their first game after a slow start from the football season.

“Ferris is going to be really good,” Post Falls coach Mike McLean said. “Every time we made a mistake, they came down and scored on us. Ferris will take care of business in the (Greater Spokane League). They’re the premier program in Spokane.”

The Trojans’ 4-0 start also includes wins over Shadle Park and Mead. Post Falls would be the early leader in the GSL.

Post Falls graduated seven seniors from the title team, but things are shaping up nicely for this season.

“Right now we are ahead of schedule,” McLean said.

The surprise team to me among the GSL boys after the first week has to be Rogers, which is off to a 3-0 start in league. The Pirates have wins against the teams that figure to be in the chase for the league’s lone State 3A berth, Shadle Park and North Central.

Another 3A team to watch is University, which has opened 3-0 with wins over Mead and Shadle.

• In the GSL girls, meanwhile, three teams are off to 3-0 starts – heavily favored Lewis and Clark, Gonzaga Prep and North Central.

No surprise that LC beat Central Valley and Mead. Perhaps what was eye-opening was the fact that the games were closer than some expected.

There’s a reason for that – LC isn’t clicking on all cylinders yet. When the Tigers get things rolling, watch out.

LC goes to G-Prep at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in a game that should be entertaining. They were picked to finish first and second.

I still see Shadle having the edge among the 3A teams. But NC and U-Hi will have a say in things before the season concludes.

• One of the best early games I saw last week was between the Lewiston and Coeur d’Alene girls – a rematch of last year’s Idaho 5A state championship game.

It was a fun battle. The transfer of junior wing/forward Chelsea Waters from Moscow to Lewiston was a huge pickup for the Bengals. She is, without doubt, a future NCAA Division I player.

These teams could play five times this year, including a final matchup as a rematch in the state final. In fact, I don’t see another team in the state capable of beating either team.

CdA got some good news. Junior Kendalyn Brainard, who started last year as a freshman, and junior Carli Williams were released to begin practicing last week. They both suffered ACL injuries last summer.

While it seems awfully early to be returning, both figure to be released to play in games perhaps as early as Jan. 4 when CdA visits Lewiston.

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