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

Youth notebook: National titles from wrestling to basketball

Two days after capping an undefeated freshman year and state championship, Post Falls’ Ridge Lovett was back in the practice room gearing up for the spring/summer season.

All of the hard work – including two months in southern Idaho training – paid off last week when Lovett, a sophomore to be this fall, captured a USA wrestling championship in Greco at the Cadet national tournament in Fargo, North Dakota.

Lovett’s title came at 100 pounds. He also took second at the same weight in freestyle. He technical falled his way through the Greco tournament, capped by a 12-2 victory over Lucas Byrd of Ohio.

In the freestyle final, Lovett lost 8-2 to Julian Tagg of Ohio.

“The guy I was training with (in southern Idaho) is one of the best freestyle coaches in the country,” Lovett said. “He prepared me for what I faced at Fargo.”

Lovett lost to Byrd at the Cadet World Team trials in Akron, Ohio in June.

“I turned it around in Fargo,” Lovett said. “I was ready. I could feel there was a huge difference.”

Boys basketball

Three Eastern Washington Elite teams reached championship finals during the last two weeks of the July NCAA viewing periods.

EWE Blue, a 15U team that won April’s Northwest Premier Spring Showcase in Bellevue, finished second in the championship bracket of the Double Pump Best of Summer tournament in Anaheim, California July 13-17. The tournament included 44 teams from throughout the United States.

The next week in Las Vegas, Blue made the semifinals of the Platinum Elite bracket in Bigfoot Hoops’ Las Vegas Classic, losing to a team sponsored by the Clippers’ Chris Paul in the semifinals.

Members of EWE Blue include Danny Bradbury (Newport High), Sheadon Byrd (Gonzaga Prep), Matt Carney (Gonzaga Prep), Erik Farias (St. George’s), Jonny Hillman (Genesis Prep), Drake Thompson (Post Falls), Reece Van Lierop (Ferris), Cameron Williams (Genesis Prep) and Paxton Wojcik (Gonzaga Prep).

Eastern Washington Elite’s two 14U teams each made bracket finals in the Las Vegas Classic, a 110-team tournament at that age level. The 14U age group features players who will be freshmen in high school this fall.

The Silver team won its pool before finishing second in the Platinum Elite bracket, losing to North Texas Elite in the championship game.

Members of the Silver team, coached by Jamie Nilles, include Jadon Bowton (Ferris), Cole Dobson (Ferris), Zach Fleming (Ferris), Richard Funke (Mead), Liam Lloyd (Gonzaga Prep), Ryan Moffet (Odessa), Tyson Rogalette (Mead), Coy Spink (Ferris) and Denham Wojcik (Gonzaga Prep).

The Green team, which also won a bracket in the April Bellevue tournament, lost in the finals of the Platinum bracket to Colorado Hawks 2020 after defeating teams from Hawaii, California and Idaho en route to the title game.

Members of the Green team, coached by Vince Grippi and Kyle Hurst, include Colby Gennett (Post Falls), Quinn Johnson (Central Valley), Ethan Kramer (Pullman), Matt Pfeifer (Lewis and Clark), Danny Rigsby (St. George’s), Jayce Simmons (Central Valley), Nick Mason (Medical Lake) and Skyler Wrenn (Mead).

The Griffins 15U boys basketball team just completed a successful summer.

They went 6-0 to win a tournament in Bellevue and 6-1 to finish in the final four while playing up a division in Anaheim, California.

All the players will be sophomores this fall.

Anton Watson, Jacob Parola, Jamaari Jones, Carter Sonneborn, Samuel Stockton, Zach Paukert, Aaron Heaton and Christian Aldrich attend Gonzaga Prep while Ben Merritt and Jake Damon go to Lewis and Clark. Paxton Wojcik attended G-Prep previously but is moving to Indiana to attend an all-boys academy, coach John Stockton said.

Wojcich, Watson, Jones and Parola were consistent players, Stockton said.

“I thought the summer was a little bit revealing for us,” Stockton said. “The boys made nice strides in their abilities and confidence. For me that’s rewarding.”

Stockton was assisted by Nate Steilen.

Girls basketball

The Spokane Stars Blue finished its season by capturing the championship at the 14th annual MSNM Western Championships in San Diego last week.

In a title game that featured two area teams, the Stars defeated North Idaho Elite 58-55. It’s the second straight year the Stars have won at San Diego and sixth overall.

To get to the final, the Stars and NI Elite had to get out of pool play.

Things started roughly for the Stars, who lost their pool opener to ESA Seattle, a team the Stars beat the week before at their tournament in Spokane.

“Our pool was a pool from hell,” Stars coach Ron Adams said.

But the Stars bounced back and ESA lost three straight, allowing the Stars to advance from their pool.

“It was a great championship game,” Adams said. “North Idaho played very well.”

Lexie Hull (Central Valley) led the Stars with 14 points, Lacie Hull (Central Valley) had 12, Hailey Christopher (Central Valley) had 11 and Jamie Loera (Moses Lake) had 10. Christopher led with seven rebounds and Lacie Hull had six. Jaidyn Lyman (Mt. Spokane) had seven assists.

“All nine of our players contributed throughout the tournament,” Adams said. “Without all of them we wouldn’t have won the tournament.”

The Stars finished the spring/summer season with a 38-4 record.

A pair of Post Falls players, Melody Kempton and Bailey Brennan, led North Idaho in the final. Kempton finished with 20 points and Brennan had 10.

“It’s probably the best summer we’ve ever had,” North Idaho coach Chris Carlson said. “We played the Stars as well as we’ve ever played them. We had a shot to tie the game at the end.”

North Idaho finished the year 27-5.

Other team members are: Allison Kirby (Timberlake), Nina Carlson (Lake City), Keelie Lawler (Timberlake), Keara Simpson (Lake City), Rachel Schroeder (Genesis Prep of Post Falls) and Tiana Johnson (Flathead High of Kalispel, Montana).

The Northwest Blazers teams from Spokane attended the Arizona Elite Summer Classic in Phoenix, Arizona July 23-25.

Playing in front of most major college coaches in the western United States, the Blazer Teams were able to accomplish something that has never been done in an NCAA-certified event before, Blazers coach and director Steve Klees said. All five Blazer teams entered won championships.

The Orange team, led by Lewis and Clark’s Jacinta Buckley, won the prestigious Top Division. This is the sixth straight championship game the Orange team has played in out of six events in the spring/summer season.

The Northwest Blazers Ice team defeated the Northwest Blazers Black team in the 17U Elite Division.

The Northwest Blazers Heat 16U Team defeated The Northwest Blazers Fire 15U Team in the finals of the 16U Bracket.

According to tournament director Gary Peterson of the A Z Elite, he’s never seen a club program win every single game at a national event.

The Blazers finished their summer at the adidas national championships in Atlanta, Georgia last week.

The Fire won the 15U title, finishing 5-0. The Blazers had all seventh and eighth graders playing in a ninth grade division. They defeated Western Pennsylvania Bruins 60-53 in the final.

Team members are: Jayda Noble (Medical Lake), Ashlyn Wallace (Clarkston), Madison Dixon (Pomeroy), Delaney Pink (Tri-Cities), Melani McBee (Tri-Cities) and Tia Allen (Colbert).

The Blazers Orange advanced to the final in the Top National Gauntlet Division, falling to Western Pennsylvania Bruins 53-46 in the final.

Jacinta Buckley (Lewis and Clark) and Jill Townsend (Okanogan) were named Adidas All Americans.

The Spokane Stars Navy team captured the title in the Level 4 (ninth grade and younger) division at San Diego.

The Stars defeated Red Monarchs of Oregon 41-40 in the title game. Trailing 40-39 in the closing seconds, Hailey Marlow (West Valley) hit a runner as the horn sounded.

Other team members are: Danielle Hillyard (East Valley), Madilynn Bruno (Central Valley), Destiny Hillyard (East Valley), Alyssa Amann (West Valley), Mataya Green (East Valley), Lakin Gardner (Gonzaga Prep) and Chloe Williams (Central Valley). They were coached by Katara Belton-Sharp, Todd Hawley and McKenzie Peterson.


The North Idaho Xtreme 18U team took third last week at the 18 Gold Premier fastpitch national tournament at Huntington Beach, California.

The Xtreme finished 8-2, defeating Bat Busters of southern California in the game to decide third and fourth. There were 64 teams in the tourney.

“They played unbelievable,” coach Travis Smith said.

The Xtreme tied for ninth at the same tourney a year ago. They finished the summer 41-8-1.

Team members are: Bre Burke (Coeur d’Alene), Kelsey Gumm (Central Valley), Kylie Smith (Coeur d’Alene), Hannah Bell (Mt. Spokane), Rylie Thompson (Central Valley), Kyla Stern (Mt. Spokane), Haley Loffer (Lake City), Taylor Wuesthoff (Lakeside of Nile Mile), Chloe Falciani (Lake City), Kaylin Donovan (Coeur d’Alene), Martha Tooley (Eagle, Idaho) and Elaina Cook (Boise). Assisting Smith were Trey Ray, Casey Stangel and Jordan Getzelman.

Burke, is headed to UNLV. Gumm has given an oral commitment to Seton Hall. Wuesthoff has committed to Community Colleges of Spokane.

Sports physicals

The Northwest Sports Network is offering $10 sports physicals for area athletes Aug. 10. The proceeds from the physicals will be donated back to the athletes’ schools.

The Northwest Sports Network is a partnership between Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists and Columbia Medical Associates.

The physicals will be offered at the Northwest Orthoapaedic Specialists Valley Office, 12410 E. Sinto Ave., suite 201. Any questions, call 321-4108.