After Tuesday’s round of Greater Spokane League basketball games, every team has played at least half of its league games. The top four teams in 4A (boys and girls), and the top three in 3A, will advance to the District 8 tournament, which begins Feb. 11.
What better time to look at the landscape heading down the home stretch?
All stats are in league games only, unless otherwise noted. Teams are listed in order of current league standings, with their record and leading scorer, with points per game, in parentheses.
Central Valley (13-1, 8-0 GSL; Jayce Simmons, 13.1 ppg) is the lone remaining unbeaten team in league play and is ranked No. 5 (as of Thursday) in Class 4A in the WIAA’s RPI rankings, used to seed for the state tournament.
The Bears ended two-time defending State 4A champion Gonzaga Prep’s 39-game GSL winning streak in the season opener and beat 2019 State 3A runner-up Mt. Spokane 58-55 on Jan. 7. While CV doesn’t have the individual star power that the Bullpups and Wildcats have in Grand Canyon-bound Liam Lloyd (G-Prep) and Boise State commit Tyson Degenhart (Mt. Spokane), respectively, the balanced Bears have something that no other team in the league does: Gavin Gilstrap.
The 6-foot-10, 270-pound junior has been the team’s defensive anchor and is one of four CV players (along with Simmons, Noah Sanders and Dylan Darling) averaging at least 10 points per game.
Gonzaga Prep (10-4, 7-1; Lloyd, 23.5 ppg) returned just two players from last year’s squad that graduated five seniors – including Anton Watson, the 2019 “Mr. Basketball” for the state, State 4A player of the year and two-time state tournament MVP.
As a result, the 17th-ranked Bullpups started slowly, losing three of their first four games, but have since won nine of 10, capped by a 69-63 win at Mt. Spokane on Tuesday in which Degenhart was limited to a season-low 12 points. Their lone loss in that span came to No. 1 Union.
G-Prep plays host to CV on Friday in what may determine the league title and the 4A No. 1 seed to districts.
If the season ended today, Mead (7-7, 5-3; Tyson Rogalette, 16.0 ppg), would be the No. 3 seed, but the road ahead is daunting. Among their last six games, the Panthers play at CV before closing the regular season with a home-and-home against G-Prep.
Ferris (8-6, 4-4; McCoy Spink, 11.8 ppg) is tied with University for the No. 4 seed and plays the Titans twice down the stretch. The Saxons also have games with Mt. Spokane, CV, rival Lewis and Clark and Gonzaga Prep.
University (6-8, 4-4; Conrad Bippes, 12.8 ppg) can beat you inside, with the 6-7 Bippes, or outside, where University has hit 36 3-pointers over the past four games. The Titans play winless Shadle Park on Friday, visit Mead and G-Prep next week and play host to CV, along with two dates with the Saxons to wrap up the season.
Lewis and Clark (3-10, 3-5; Joel Zylak, 15.3 ppg) still has a chance to reach postseason, but the Tigers have a game at G-Prep and two against Central Valley on their slate.
Gonzaga Prep (11-3, 6-2; Lakin Gardner, 10.5 ppg) beat Central Valley 50-44 in the season opener to snap the Bears’ 62-game home winning streak that dated to 2014, but senior Olivia Mayer tore her ACL midway through the third quarter. The Bullpups lost their next two games by a combined 43 points, including a 26-point loss to University.
G-Prep responded by winning 10 consecutive games before scoring a season-low 35 points in a loss to Mt. Spokane on Tuesday, and the remaining schedule offers little solace. The No. 16 Bullpups play four in a row at home against CV, Lewis and Clark, U-Hi and Ferris before closing the regular season with a home-and-home against Mead.
Central Valley (10-3, 6-2; Peyton Howard, 11.6 ppg) has seen tremendous roster turnover the past two seasons, and Felice Orrell is the program’s second head coach since Freddie Rehkow retired after winning state and national titles in the 2017-18 season.
Regardless, the No. 8 Bears control their destiny, but all of their last five games are against 4A teams that are at least .500 in GSL play.
Mead (10-4, 5-3; Joelnell Momberg, 13.9 ppg) transfer Momberg, who is committed to play at Montana next season, and her sophomore sister, Kyla, have helped coach Quantae Anderson’s team back into the playoff picture, along with returning starters Jordynn Hutchinson, Olivia Moore and Alicia Suggs.
The Panthers play North Central on Friday, but three of their final five games are against the teams (CV and G-Prep) that sit atop the GSL 4A standings.
Ferris (7-7, 4-4; Elliot Hencz, 9.8 ppg) won just two games in league play last season but returned four starters and nine letter winners from that squad. The Saxons are the GSL 4A’s No. 4 seed for now, but their last five games come against teams that are a combined 31-16 in GSL play.
Lewis and Clark (6-7, 4-4; Andie Zylak, 14.9 ppg) lost in the state title game last season but also graduated four starters and its top sub off that team, including GSL MVP Jacinta Buckley (UNLV).
Andie Zylak has kept the young and inexperienced Tigers afloat – including a sweep of University – but with two games against CV and one each against G-Prep and Mead, it may not be enough.
Perhaps the biggest surprise this season is University (6-8, 4-4), if not the preseason favorite to earn the GSL 4A No. 1 seed, at least a strong contender to do so.
To be fair, it’s still a possibility. The Titans have D-I commits in seniors Ellie Boni (Colorado State) and twins Jacksen and Tyler McCliment-Call (Portland) and a manageable remaining schedule, starting with winless Shadle Park on Friday.
Mt. Spokane (12-3, 5-2; Tyson Degenhart, 23.4 ppg) lost four starters and eight letter winners to graduation off its 2019 state runner-up team and has been dominant at times and vulnerable others.
The No. 6 Wildcats have lost two (Gonzaga Prep and Central Valley) of their last four games but have already locked up the GSL 3A No. 1 seed. The combined record of Mt. Spokane’s final five opponents is 8-28 in GSL play.
North Central (2-13, 2-5; Ayden Barnufsky, 10.4 ppg) is sitting as the No. 2 seed and, with a two-game lead in the win column on both Rogers and Shadle Park, seems likely to earn a berth to the district playoffs. The Indians play at Mead on Friday and have two games remaining against Mt. Spokane.
Rogers (2-12, 0-7; Evan Nomee, 13.4 ppg) and Shadle Park (2-13, 0-7; Jake Wilcox, 10.1 ppg) play twice, and each have a game with NC down the stretch. The third and final 3A berth to districts could come down to a game between the Pirates and the Highlanders on the final day of the regular season.
Mt. Spokane (11-3, 7-0; Emma Main, 16.4 ppg) lost in the state title game last season but appears primed to make another deep run.
Main, the senior point guard, has blossomed into one of the GSL’s premier scorers, and University of Washington commit Jayda Noble is one of the best defenders and rebounders on the West Coast. The No. 3 Wildcats have locked up the GSL 3A No. 1 in the district playoffs.
North Central (5-10, 2-5; Justine Tonasket, 8.0 ppg) is in the driver’s seat for a playoff berth but still has a game at Mead and two against Mt. Spokane on the schedule.
Shadle Park (4-11, 0-7; Izzy Boring, 12.5 ppg) and Rogers (1-11, 0-7; Regina Flemming, 8.3 ppg), remain in search of their first league wins and, like the boys, it appears that the final spot in the district playoffs will come down to a head-to-head matchup in the final regular-season game.
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