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Sports >  High school sports

Boys capsules: Cheney, Pullman look to lead competitive Great Northern League

St. George’s Mitchel Ward (12) guards Liberty’s Justin Jeske (32) during a WIAA State 2B semifinal basketball game on Friday, March 2, 2018, at Spokane Arena in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
St. George’s Mitchel Ward (12) guards Liberty’s Justin Jeske (32) during a WIAA State 2B semifinal basketball game on Friday, March 2, 2018, at Spokane Arena in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Alphabetical order, last year’s record.

Great Northern League

Cheney (10-11, 5-7, fourth) first-year coach Frankie Keplinger has one starter – second-team all-league senior forward Kaiden Custer – and five returning letter winners to work with. Keplinger brings a ton of expereince from coaching nationally ranked teams in Las Vegas as well as assisting at Mt. Spokane the past two seasons. “Our players at Cheney HS are very smart, dedicated, and extremely tough. While we lack experience playing with each other, we all have the same common goal – winning,” Keplinger said. … Clarkston (18-8, 10-2, first) ninth-year coach Justin Jones has three starters and seven letter winners back from a team that placed fourth at state, including first-team all-league senior point guard Tru Allen, a four-year letter winner and brother of Idaho guard Trevon Allen. East Valley (2-19, 0-12, fifth) lost eight letter winners and three starters to graduation. Senior guard Taylor Hofstee and center Collin Zurfluh should be counted on as leaders. The Knights may lack size but will employ a full-court defense and hope to transition to offense with efficiency, according to second-year coach Jeremy Knee. … Pullman (21-7, 8-4, second) coach Craig Brantner returns for his 15th season with eight letter winners returning, including second-team all-league senior Ethan Kramer and fellow senior Braden Roberts. Dane Bedner, a 6-foot-6 post, should help on the inside. “We have a lot of kids that have played together growing up,” Branter said. “But they haven’t played at varsity speed yet.” … West Valley (14-7, 7-5, third) coach Jay Humphrey, now in his 11th year, lost four starters and seven letter winners to graduation, so he’s still sorting out his rotation. Senior Jace Peterson and juniors Blaine Vasecik and Treden Davis return, while junior transfers Jayce Pakootas and Dakari Pakootas (Central Valley) should help.

Northeast A

Colville (4-17, 2-10, sixth) returns one starter, but it’s a big one – 6-5 senior post Jory Dotts, a Division I football recruit. First-year coach Braden Titmus has three other letter winners returning, including senior guard Blake Barnett. “We are young throughout our entire program,” Titmus said, “but the basketball IQ is high.” … Deer Park (20-4, 10-2, first) returns Dawson Youngblood and Jobi Gelder from last season’s league champs. … Freeman (9-12, 6-6, fourth) second-year coach Kyle Olson returns three, including senior guards Gabe Tippett and Kaleb Ohler. Junior transfer guard Tucker Scarlet (Lewis and Clark) should provide depth. … Lakeside (15-9, 8-4, third) lost three all-league players but has two starters and six letter winners back. Senior point guard Javon Williams will be counted on for leadership. “We have good length on defense, a good team chemistry and kids that will work hard to achieve,” said 11th-year coach Ron Cox. … Medical Lake (8-15, 5-7, fifth) new coach Jordan Starr has a trio of senior guards to rely on: Nick Mason, Jordan Petersen and Ashton Hamilton-Becker. “Our defensive pressure and ability to spread the floor with playmakers will be our strengths,” Starr said. … Newport (18-4, 10-2, first) athletic director Brett Mackey adds basketball coach to his resume this season. He’ll miss first-team all-league picks Danny Bradbury and Tug Smith but returns eight letter winners, including second-team forward Michael Owen from the co-league champs last season. … Riverside (5-15, 1-11, seventh) second-year coach Steven Bryant has four starters back and eight letter winners. Junior point guard Jaxon Betker and sophomore shooting guard Jordan Nortz should be counted on to lead. “Our challenge this year will be to find consistent offense throughout the year,” Bryant said.

Northeast 2B

Kettle Falls (9-13, 4-6) coach Cameron Stewart enters his third full season at the helm with four starters and seven letter winners coming back, including first-team all-league point guard Matthew Thompson and second-team wing Cade McKern. The Bulldogs should be experienced at perimeter positions and display good ball movement. … Lind-Ritzville/Sprague (8-15, 3-7) coach Dustan Arlt returns for his 11th season with three starters and six letter winners back. Three-year starting point guard Austin Thompson should be counted on, as will leading rebounder junior Drew Kelly. “We have the experience and pieces to be competitive,” Arlt said. “We were competitive last season, but had trouble winning close games.” … Northwest Christian (16-8, 7-3) lost three starters and six letter winners to graduation or transfer following last season’s second-place league finish, including three all-league selections. Senior forward David Maynard returns, while fellow seniors Guillen Young and Daniel Swanson look to step up. “We have a young but deep team which is working hard to improve,” second-year coach Aaron Spuler said. … St. George’s (24-3, 10-0) fell to Kittitas in the State 2B title game last season, after dealing the Brock Ravet-led Coyotes their only loss of the season earlier that campaign. Coach Ryan Peplinski, in his 18th season, lost three starters off that team but has six letter winners returning, including second-team all-league senior point guard Dan Rigsby and junior shooting guard Nick Watkins. “We had a dynamic group of seniors last year and will fill spots with players who have not had a season of varsity playing time,” Peplinski said.


Oakesdale (19-9, 10-2) sixth-year coach Carl Crider lost four starters to graduation, including three all-league performers, so the Nighthawks will be young. Senior swing Matt Hockett should be a leader, while junior guards Simon Anderson and Tyler Bober look to step up. … Odessa (24-3, 13-1) finished fourth at state and returns all five starters and eight letter winners for third-year coach Larry Weber. Senior guard Ryan Moffet and senior post Marcus King earned all-state honors, while senior guard Camden Weber was an all-league pick. … Pomeroy (8-12, 5-6) lost four starters from last season, but sophomore all-league wing Trent Gwinn returns, as do senior forwards Evan Bartels and Danner Maves. Transfer senior guard Byron Sattcop (Pullman) should help.

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