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

Izzy Boring trying to ‘reverse the culture’ for girls basketball at Shadle Park

Shadle Park girls basketball player Izzy Boring poses after a game against North Central on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (Dave Nichols / The Spokesman-Review)

The first thing you notice is the unique name. Then you realize – she can really play.

Izzy Boring is anything but boring.

The Shadle Park junior point guard, who opts for the nickname over her given name of Isabella, is one of the top dozen scorers in the Greater Spokane League this season, averaging 13.3 points per game.

Unfortunately, that average won’t have a chance to get higher.

Boring has suffered through shin splints most of the season, but the condition worsened into a stress reaction and for fear of a fracture, she’s been shut down for the rest of the Highlanders’ season.

She hopes to recover by mid-March to take part in postseason all-star games.

Until then, she’ll have to be the most vocal supporter on first-year head coach Scott Kelley’s bench, where she could hardly stay seated Tuesday as Shadle lost 48-28 to North Central.

“Izzy just gives it everything she has, every night,” Kelley said. “She is the epitome of team player. She works her butt off on defense.

“She was our biggest cheerleader on the bench tonight and we just were heartbroken for her personally, but we know that as far as the team is concerned, we have business at hand and she’s going to help us. She’s going to be that extra coach on the bench and we’ll do everything we can to move forward.”

It’s especially tough for Kelley to have Boring as cheerleader/assistant coach since Shadle – despite its 1-10 league record – is fighting for the third 3A seed to the District 8 tourney.

The Highlanders face Rogers on Thursday and if they can down the Pirates for the second time this season, they’ll reach the playoffs.

The “reward” for edging out Rogers is a trip to Hermiston, Oregon, to face the Mid-Columbia Conference’s second-place Bulldogs.

“Our goal is to compete against Rogers and see what we can do there,” Kelley said. “And then if we’re able to beat Rogers we’re third seed we have an uphill battle, got to travel to Oregon. But you know, we’re doing everything we can to get better every day, and we’ve got a long ways to go.”

Boring started her high school career at St. George’s and played in 29 games as a freshman, averaging 4.7 points for a Dragons team that went 21-9 and placed sixth at state.

She transferred to her neighborhood school for her sophomore campaign and she’s now trying to be part of something bigger.

“Izzy would start on any team (in the GSL),” Kelley said. “She would be one of their better players, especially defensively, and she’s here trying to help us rebuild the program.”

“For the past two years, it’s been a struggling program,” Boring said. “My whole thing transferring here was, I wanted to help reverse that culture and just make it a better, more positive culture where girls want to show up and girls want to come and play.

“I want to make a difference.”

Kelley said Boring’s investment has been huge for the program.

“We’re hoping that we can continue to get kids to buy into that and follow her as a leader, because she truly is a genuine leader who is willing to give everything she’s got.”

The culture change hasn’t shown in the win column yet. Since Boring arrived, the Highlanders have won seven games over two seasons, with just three league wins – all over similarly situated Rogers.

The foundation might be starting to take shape. Shadle has just one senior and three juniors on the roster. That’s good and bad, though, since Shadle can’t field a JV team and has 11 on its C team – including a few juniors.

“We have to go back into elementary (schools) – because we have nothing in the pipeline – and get kids so we have the numbers,” Kelley said.

Boring just wants enough teammates to practice against.

“Our varsity team only has eight players,” Boring said. “We can’t scrimmage five-on-five. The only time we actually run against five players is in games. It’s, like, our first go-round and, yeah, it’s pretty difficult.”

The younger players naturally look up to Boring.

“I think being a leader is probably one of the hardest things to do,” she admitted. “You want to get on your girls and you want to tell them, ‘Hey, you gotta do this,’ but you also have to be that mom, I guess, where you need to love them and you want them to be their best self on and off the court.”

Shadle Park and Rogers will drop from 3A to 2A next year – taking advantage of the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association’s new rule allowing schools to reduce their classification enrollment number by the percentage of students above the state average who receive free or reduced school lunches.

“As far as 2A is concerned, I don’t know how much it’s going to help girls basketball at Shadle, because you know Clarkston, East Valley, West Valley – they’re all great,” Kelley said. “But I think long term, all sports considered, I think it’s going to be a good move for us as far as competing.”