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Friday, September 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports

Grip on Sports: It seems like a good day to dive for the loose ball

Gonzaga guard Zach Norvell Jr. battles Pepperdine guard Colby Ross for a loose ball, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga guard Zach Norvell Jr. battles Pepperdine guard Colby Ross for a loose ball, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • You want a challenge? Try to put together a Monday column outside of football season. It’s tough, tougher, maybe, than diving for a loose ball in a college basketball game – though probably not as dangerous. Read on.

••••••••••

• The analogy is an apt one today, considering our Jim Meehan wrote about how Gonzaga has been making the little – in some observers’ eyes – plays more and more often down the stretch. And they have added up to big results.

Those plays sometimes take a courageous disregard for one’s safety. There’s a risk, sure, but there is also reward, and not just on the play in question.

When a basketball player shows his teammates he or she is willing to do whatever it takes to win a single possession, it lifts the entire group. And winning a basketball game is like building a fence in the backyard. You put up one slat at a time and, before you know it, you’ve kept the neighborhood pests away.

Another way to keep winning is to make free throws. Depending on the team, up to one-third of games are usually decided at the free throw line.

So this paragraph in Jim’s story hit me:

“The Zags made 28 of 30 free throws in the final five minutes against San Francisco, San Diego, BYU, Pacific and Saint Mary’s. They went 23 of 23 in the last three minutes and 19 of 19 in the final two minutes.”

That’s pretty good shooting at a time in a game when free throws are as important as stops or rebounds.

• The Washington state high school basketball regionals are coming up this weekend, with 31 area teams vying for state spots. Some (those seeded 1 through 8 in their respective classifications) have already earned a spot and will play for seeding. Others (seeded 9 through 16) must win a game before moving on.

The state tournaments begin a week from Thursday at the Tacoma Dome, the SunDome in Yakima and at the Spokane Arena.

•••

WSU: Around the Pac-12, Stanford avenged its stunning defeat to California to open the season with a 77-73 victory in Berkeley. … Though Arizona should win the conference, the tournament byes are still in play. Utah is in the running. … Colorado and Oregon are longer shots especially after last weekend. … There should be more to college hoop than just games and practices.

Gonzaga: We linked Jim’s story above, but we wanted to make sure you found it here as well. … David Stockton played for the G League All Stars yesterday. … Around the WCC, BYU is trying to solve its long-range shooting woes. … Calvin Hermanson’s game has evolved while he’s been at Saint Mary’s.

Chiefs: Two consecutive nights of 5-1 wins. Different heroes each night. And Spokane has won eight of its last nine.

Preps: Dave Nichols details all of this weekend’s matchups in this story.

Mariners: Felix Hernandez seems to be doing the same old thing. So we probably shouldn’t expect different results. … The starting staff is down a pitcher at least for a while. … It’s not James Paxton.

•••       

• Stay warm – if you can. Until later …

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