The Greater Spokane League has placed a girls team in the State 4A title game in 16 of the past 19 years, with 12 champions. On most occasions, there have been multiple GSL teams in the tourney.
With District 8 receiving just two berths to state this year – and a national top-five prospect playing in the Mid-Columbia Conference – there’s a lone representative to take up the league’s mantle. That’s Central Valley, which knocked off GSL rival Mead in the district title game to punch its ticket.
On the 3A side, Mt. Spokane returns to the bracket, trying to gain closure on some unfinished business after getting tantalizingly close with last year’s senior-laden team.
CV’s girls program has been the model for the rest of the state to follow for the past two decades. Under first-year coach Felice Orrell, the Bears (20-3) are back this year with a bye to a quarterfinal on Thursday.
In its regional matchup, Chloe Williams scored 17 points, MJ Bruno added 16 and No. 3 Central Valley pulled away from No. 6 Glacier Peak 67-49 on Friday – a rematch of last year’s state fourth-place game won by the Grizzlies.
The Bears play in a quarterfinal on Thursday at 12:15 p.m. against the winner of No. 5 Kentridge and No. 12 Issaquah.
“It’s just nice to take care of business at home,” Orrell said after the regional win at University HS. “That’s what you work for all season, to get that home advantage, and I think it really paid off.”
Orrell is a fan of the regional-round setup.
“Moving forward, there’s no bad team, so it just kind of gives you that little taste of that competitive action heading over to state,” she said.
Orrell is the second first-year coach in as many seasons at CV to win GSL Coach of the Year honors. She took the job less than two weeks before the season after Ryan Brogdon was let go.
A 2002 CV graduate, Orrell played under coach Dale Poffenroth and his then-assistant coach, Freddie Rehkow. During her time as a Bear she was a team captain and part of two state championship teams, including the 29-0 squad her senior year.
She described the Bears’ coaching position as her “dream job.”
Orrell leans on her leaders: senior guard Peyton Howard and junior forward Bruno, along with senior post Michael Pitts and junior guard Williams, who is coming into her own down the stretch.
“She’s just one more weapon we have in our toolbox,” Orrell said of Williams. “I think so many people are trying to shut this person down, that person down. Chloe’s our secret sniper in there.”
Jayda Noble will be wearing purple and gold next season for the Washington Huskies. But before she takes the Pac-12 by storm, she still has work to do for the Wildcats (19-3).
Noble, the GSL Player of the Year, scored 22 points and No. 4 Mt. Spokane beat No. 5 Shorecrest 78-49 in a regional on Saturday. The Wildcats advanced to a quarterfinal on Thursday at 3:45 p.m. against the winner of No. 6 Lake Washington and No. 14 Hudson’s Bay.
“Having U-Dub and just signed already, that takes so much off my shoulders and I’m just so excited to start that,” Noble said.
But first, state.
“It’s my team,” Noble said. “I want to win state with my team. I want to have fun with my team. That’s all that matters to me.”
Noble won’t have to put the team on her back – coach David Pratt can put five 6-footers on the floor and two of them can run point. It’s a luxury unseen really in girls basketball at the high school level.
The one traditionally sized guard Pratt employs is 5-6 Emma Main, who joined Noble on the All-GSL first team.
But Noble will probably have to be more aggressive looking for her shot in the state tourney. She averaged “just” 10.4 points while acting as floor general and rebounding terror this season.
“Yes, 100%,” she said after the regional win. “I should have done it sooner, but I’m getting after it more now.”
“We’re gonna rely on her, but I don’t think she’s gonna feel like she has to do it all,” Pratt said. “We have a lot of really talented kids in the program, and I think we’re all in it for the same reason.”
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