We’re not even at the holiday break yet, so any evaluation of the early returns of area high school basketball league races comes with a huge caveat.
But let’s do it anyway.
In the Greater Spokane League, it’s Gonzaga Prep (5-1, 4-0) and everyone else. That might a bit be unfair to three teams in particular, but with Anton Watson scoring 25.2 points per game and 29.3 in league games, the league is going to go through the defending State 4A champ Bullpups and their shiny new gymnasium.
Watson could score just about every time he wanted if he sticks in the low post, but coach Matty McIntrye has been running his whole offense, including having Watson on a wing on occasion where he’ll ply his trade in the Kennel next year.
Watson has been getting help from Liam Lloyd, who has been hitting the boards harder in absence of last year’s leading rebounder Jamaari Jones, who is out all season with a knee injury.
G-Prep’s lowest margin of victory in league play is 20 through four games.
University (6-1, 3-1) and Ferris (6-2, 3-1) are also off to good starts in 4A. Mt. Spokane (7-1, 2-1) should be a contender in the State 3A race this year.
Great Northern: Pullman (8-0, 3-0) is off to a fast start behind high-scoring Jacob Wells and Isaiah Strong. West Valley’s Nick Drynan, a transfer from G-Prep, has the Eagles (5-2, 2-1) competitive, but they were dropped by Pullman 57-48 on Tuesday.
Northeast A: Deer Park (8-0, 4-0) is led by senior guard Isaac Berglund, who is averaging 17.8 points. The Stags already own a win over second-place Newport (4-1, 2-1), a four-point decision on Tuesday when sophomore guard Dawson Youngblood scored 18 points.
Small schools: St. George’s (7-0, 2-0), second in state last year, leads the Northeast 2B North and has wins against 1A schools Lakeside, Freeman and Medical Lake and two-time defending State 2B champ Kittitas and Gonzaga recruit Brock Ravet. In the South Division, Colfax (5-1, 2-0) and Liberty (5-2, 2-0) are off to good starts.
In 1B, Odessa (4-0) looks strongest in the Northeast while Oakesdale (5-3, 4-0) and Garfield- Palouse (4-3, 4-0) are undefeated in league in the Southeast.
The top of the GSL is as open as it has been in the last four years, with Central Valley losing three Division I players from last season’s record-setting undefeated state championship team.
Mt. Spokane staked its claim to the mythical title of “best girls team in the league” on Tuesday, pulling away from Lewis and Clark for a 67-47 win. Aspyn Adams scored 20 points and the Wildcats went 20 of 21 at the line. The Seattle Times poll this week had Lewis and Clark at No. 2 in 4A and Mt. Spokane ranked sixth in 3A.
CV (5-1, 3-1) should not be overlooked while G-Prep (6-1, 3-1) and North Central (5-2, 2-1) are off to a strong starts.
University (4-3, 2-2) has a veteran squad that made a strong showing at the state tournament last year and added the McCliment-Call twins as transfers from last year’s Idaho 5A state champion Post Falls team. The Titans are still taking some time to jell.
Great Northern: East Valley (8-1, 3-1) placed third at state last year and brought back the nucleus of that team, including leading scorer and rebounder Genesis Wilkinson. The Knights have one setback – a 61-53 loss to Clarkston (6-0, 3-0) last Friday when Ashlyn Wallace scored 32 points, including five 3-pointers, for the Bantams.
Northeast A: Medical Lake (6-1, 3-0) lost all-league Jayda Noble to transfer to Mt. Spokane, but still looks to be a top team. Freeman (6-2, 3-0) lost its first two games to 2A competition and has been undefeated since, including a 62-44 win over 2A Pullman.
Small schools: Northwest Christian (6-1, 2-0) and Liberty (6-1, 2-0) lead their respective divisions in the Northeast 2B. In 1B, Almira/Coulee-Hartline (4-0, 3-0) has jumped out to a quick start in the Northeast. Colton (6-0, 4-0) and Oakesdale (6-1, 3-1) will battle in out in the Southeast like they always do – but Pomeroy (6-1, 3-1) is also competitive.