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Grip on Sports: You want to be entertained? Then catch a high school basketball game

Anton Watson, of Gonzaga Prep, drives to the basket on Jacob Pfennigs, of Post Falls, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Post Falls, Id. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Anton Watson, of Gonzaga Prep, drives to the basket on Jacob Pfennigs, of Post Falls, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Post Falls, Id. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Pre-Christmas checklist: finish shopping (not done); pay December’s bills (not done); hock television (not done); watch high school basketball games (done). Read on.

••••••••••

• Oh yeah, see “Last Jedi.” That one’s done. First time in a long, long time I’ve sat in a crowded movie theater, battling for the arm rest with the person on my left (Kim and I never battle; she gets it).

It’s funny. A two-and-a-half hour movie can seem like it’s on the screen for 30 minutes, 45 tops, when it rolls through a story you are interested in. That was the case last evening. Every twist, turn and (not-so) surprising change of direction kept me on the edge of my seat. And got me thinking about my youth.

You know, when the first Star Wars movie came out.

Rey is Luke, Ben is Darth and Luke has become Obi-Wan, of course. I don’t know who the heck Finn is, but I like him. (OK, I know he’s the new Han, so don’t @ me.)

Back when George Lucas’ first trilogy made the big screen I was consistently attending high school basketball games, usually getting $25 to write them up for the Orange County Register. At least I got in free.

Nowadays, I have to pay to get in. It’s fine. I can afford it – as opposed to then, when trying to find the money to see “The Empire Strike Back” probably included going through my parents’ couch cushions.

And I watch for a different reason. In many cases, there is someone on the court whose backstory I know well. Someone who I’ve seen go from a kid with a dream to one with a future, all through hard work and dedication.

They are scattered throughout our little corner of this galaxy. And they are worth supporting.

When Christmas is past this year, make a resolution. Get out at least once and see a high school basketball game. Go support the neighbor kid who you used to watch shoot hoops in the street. Or go watch the area’s best players if you want, just because they will be on your TV screen some day.

It’s worth the time. After all, high school games are 90 minutes to two hours, tops. And, because the plot is so thrilling, it usually only seems like half that.

•••

WSU: A lot was going on yesterday with Pullman at its core, starting with a home basketball game. The Cougars played poorly in the first half, really good in the second and routed Bethune-Cookman. Peter Harriman has the story. … It wasn’t Theo Lawson because he’s headed to the Holiday Bowl (the Cougars leave Pullman today for San Diego; jealous much?) and had to focus on all the football news. There are comings – coveted running back Max Borghi signed his letter of intent yesterday – and possible goings – there are more reports now Alex Grinch is headed to Ohio State – and for-sure goings – three WSU players will participate in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. … The WSU women won at Nebraska yesterday. … Stefanie Loh has a story on the receivers Washington State hopes will step at the Holiday Bowl. … We can pass along a couple of stories from outside the area on Borghi’s recruitment and Cammon Cooper’s senior season.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Washington is 10-3 in nonconference play, the latest win coming at the expense of Montana. At home. … Colorado couldn’t board so they lost to Iowa. … USC had little trouble with Akron in Hawaii. … Arizona State just keeps rolling along, crushing Pacific, Gonzaga’s WCC-opening opponent, 104-65. … Oregon has a break before Pac-12 play. … UCLA’s suspended players won’t be back this season. … USC also has a player not participating, but there is little else the Trojans can do. … Arizona has a player who had improved his post play. … In football news, UCLA’s Josh Rosen set a record this year due to a play WSU fans will recognize. … Arizona State has picked a defensive coordinator. … There are ups and downs for Utah in the Pac-12. … Colorado’s quarterback play is OK.

Gonzaga: With the San Diego State loss ending late, Jim Meehan took a quick look back at the positives from Wednesday night’s two-point loss. … The San Diego Union-Tribune did the same. … Elsewhere in the WCC, San Diego has a really good nonconference record, though the opponents haven’t always been the most challenging. … Loyola-Marymount lost again. … Saint Mary’s won another home game. … BYU is a bit wary of Texas Southern.

EWU: There was a surprise departure of an Eastern coach recently, and the Eagles aren’t talking about it much. Jim Allen has what he could find concerning cross country coach Chris Shane’s exit. … Around the Big Sky, Montana wasn’t happy with how the loss at Washington happened. … Northern Colorado also came close at UNLV. … Weber State picked up a home win.

Preps: There was more prep action Thursday than I expected, but we recovered with girls and boys basketball roundups. And more. … Gonzaga Prep’s Devin Culp made an all-state football team.

Rodeo: Yes, there is rodeo news. Whitney Ogden has a story about a local barrel rider and Dave Trimmer has more on other stars.

Seahawks: If (or more than likely, “when”) the Hawks are eliminated from the postseason, the offseason begins. It will be transformational. … There are injuries of course. … I pass along this story because it illustrates a point about the NFL’s salary cap. There was a time when a player of this stature could have stayed in Seattle and been a solid backup. But as the Hawks bumped up against the cap more and more, he went elsewhere to shine.

Mariners: Voting for the Hall of Fame is the goal of every baseball writer. Our buddy Ryan Divish received his first ballot this year and he explains what went into his decisions.

•••       

• Christmas shopping is never easy. That is all. Until later … 

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