The season hadn’t started and the Central Valley girls basketball team – which was already going to be young – just got a little younger.
Junior guard Courtney Carolan tore an anterior cruciate ligament during an intrasquad scrimmage Friday.
Bears coach Freddie Rehkow knew there was a chance Carolan wouldn’t finish the season. But to see her year end before it got started was sad nonetheless.
“She suffered a partial tear playing in a 3-on-3 tournament in Coeur d’Alene in August,” Rehkow said. “She knew that she could try playing but that it could go any time. If wasn’t a matter of if but when. The best part is she can get in and have surgery and get back for her senior year.”
It’s a big loss for a team that was going to be young in terms of high school experience. But in terms of playing at the highest level, well prep ball is nothing compared to the national club level most of the Bears have played at – and with success.
Where CV will miss Carolan the most is on defense.
“She’s a scrappy, lockdown defender,” Rehkow said. “She’s our vocal leader. She was our glue girl. She holds everything together.”
Now the Bears will have to grow up even faster. Rehkow will start three sophomores and two freshmen on a team that figures to play deep into February and maybe early March.
At least that’s the way one Greater Spokane League coach put it.
“I predict an undefeated state championship season – no doubt,” University coach Mark Stinson said. “They’re picking up from the (Gonzaga Prep) dynasty.”
That’s heaping a lot of praise on a team that has largely not even played a high school game together.
“I’m not candy-coating anything,” Rehkow said. “I’m expecting us to be up there. The thing about our youth is there are other teams with experience and maturity playing in the league.”
A league that is brutally difficult to survive from year to year. GSL teams have won seven state titles in the last 10 years including the last two by G-Prep.
The year before G-Prep’s first state title, Mead won and the year before that CV was runner-up.
Lewis and Clark won three straight state titles from 2005-2007 and another in 2010-11.
So while it might be much to expect the 2015-16 Bears to cruise to a state title and continue the GSL tradition, Stinson’s comment does have merit.
CV returns the multi-talented 6-foot-1 twins Lexie and Lacie Hull, starters a year ago as freshman. Most major NCAA Division I schools are well aware of them.
Sophomore Hailey Christopher, a 5-foot-11 post, will take over for four-year starter Madison Hovren, who broke most school scoring records.
Freshmen guards Camryn Skaife and Mady Simmelink should round out the starting lineup.
If Rehkow wants to go big, he can start four players who are 6-1, 6-1, 5-11 and 5-11.
Sophomore Katie Hawkins and the team’s lone senior, Emily Burns, will be the first two players off the bench. Two other sophomores round out the roster.
“We’re long and athletic,” Rehkow said. “Yes the girls have played at a higher level, but they haven’t been through the rigors of GSL basketball. It’s a battle every night in the GSL.”
Rehkow expects the scoring to be spread around. Any of his starters are capable of scoring in the high double figures.
Rehkow expects to be challenged by Lewis and Clark, which returns first team all-league selection Riley Lupfer, who has signed with Boise State.
And Rehkow sees G-Prep in the mix – even if the Bullpups lost all but four starters to graduation.
“In the GSL, every night is such a grind,” Rehkow said. “If you don’t show up against a good team you’ll get beat. Last year we were young and we almost got Prep twice. Mead beat us and we got LC three times. You can’t take anything for granted.”
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