“You’re the girl,” someone will blurt out. “You’re the girl who scored 50.”
Davenport’s Jen Greeny knows this exchange well.
“I have people now, ‘Oh, yeah, I watched you play in high school,’ ” she said. “That’s a long time ago.”
To be sure, the gestures are flattering. If nothing else, it’s a way of reaffirming the time Smith and Greeny spent playing small-school basketball was more about uniting communities than stuffing record books. Rewarding Manson and Davenport with championship trophies was more significant than individual scoring feats.
Yet, at some point, they must have also come to this realization: What’s the harm in doing both?
Twenty years later, Smith is married to Kyle Smith, the first-year coach of Washington State’s upstart men’s basketball team. Greeny, meanwhile, is the school’s ninth-year volleyball coach. She’s guided the Cougars to four straight NCAA Tournament berths and one Sweet 16 appearance.
They’re popular in Pullman these days, but if you’re hoping to strike a conversation this week at the State B Tournament at Spokane Arena, mentioning “Katie Smith” or “Jen Greeny” won’t get you as far as name-dropping “Katie Davis” or “Jennifer Stinson.”
A few days before the first ball was tipped at this year’s small-school showcase in Spokane, Smith and Greeny sat next to one another inside a room of the Bohler Complex at WSU and spent nearly 30 minutes on a journey down State B lane, reflecting on their historic meeting in 1995, the multitude of records they set and the memories they cultivated as former Queen B’s.
Barn on Boone Street
Despite its namesake, the old Spokane Coliseum, or “Boone Street Barn,” was more of a palace to a few-thousand high-schoolers across the state, and a venue Greeny grew intimate with long before she suited up for the Davenport Gorillas.
Greeny’s father, Jim Stinson, is a State B luminary who didn’t stop at winning the small-school tournament twice, later authoring a book called “Tournament Fever” in which he offered a thorough history of the event.
“He was kind of Mr. State B,” Greeny said. “Definitely just grew up, that was the goal. You went to the tournament every year, for us, whether your team was in it or not. The small towns would close down, signs would be on the windows, ‘We’re at state.’ ”
At a young age, Greeny was already used to eating and sleeping on yellow school buses. Whenever her father and brothers went on the road, Greeny tagged along – making whatever social sacrifices were necessary so she could get an early sample of the high school hoops scene, and spend quality family time that almost always involved a basketball court.
“I grew up riding a school bus going to games,” she said. “Like, that is what we did, because my older brothers, that’s really what we did.”
Greeny still has vivid memories of waiting outside the tournament venue, bolting inside when doors opened and madly racing through the crowds to claim the best seat available. In the 1990s, girls played preliminary games at Spokane Falls Community College before moving on to Spokane Coliseum for the championship round.
“They would clear out the session and you all had to go outside and line up,” Greeny said. “Then they would open the doors and you would run and get your seats. I just remember, I was in fifth or sixth grade and like sprinting for my seats because my brother was playing.”
Smith sneaked in a few trips to watch Manson in the tournament before playing in the event, once as a freshman and again as a senior. Someone who’s resided in New York and San Francisco now sees the amusement in referring to Spokane as the “big city,” but there wasn’t a larger stage for kids who came from farm-driven communities with listed populations of under 2,000.
“It was a three-hour drive and we got to eat at great restaurants and we were staying in a hotel,” she said. “It’s funny how your perspective changes when you’ve been to other places, but no for sure, it was the deal.”
Stinson for 43
Smith couldn’t have done a whole lot to interrupt the scoring flurry that took place on March 4, 1995, but even as a freshman, she was Manson’s best bet to stop, limit or slow the dynamic Davenport senior who’d established herself as the state’s top player.
“I should’ve probably felt worse about the fact she set a record,” Smith laughed.
In a consolation game at SFCC, Greeny’s almost robotic scoring – usually with Smith as the primary defender – pushed the Gorillas to a 67-48 win in the final high school game for the three-sport star who’s next stop was a volleyball scholarship at WSU.
Smith likened Greeny to a “mythical (person)” for those in the state who knew of her through word of mouth or newspaper articles, and the Davenport post lived up to her reputation, scoring a single-game tournament record of 43 points, adding to her four-year running total of 421, which still stands as a State B record.
But, perhaps a March 5, 1995, article in The Spokesman-Review can give Smith some reassurance about her defense.
In the game story, reporter Kevin Blocker described one play: “Stinson put up a shot and Davis put it back in Stinson’s face – but Davis was called for the foul. Oh, yeah, the outgoing still has seniority until departure is official.”
Smith said she relished the chance to trade blows with a walking legend in the 2B classification. When Greeny wasn’t ripping past her defender for a layup, “I do kind of just remember some encouragement (from Greeny),” she said. “… That’s someone you look up to, and at that point I knew I wanted to play college basketball, so it was pretty cool being able to play against her.”
When the Stinsons took their talents to Davenport – Jim accepted the head coaching position when Jen entered the ninth grade – the Gorillas went from middling Bi-County League program to 2B juggernaut in the blink of an eye.
Davenport hadn’t been to the state tournament as long as the school sponsored a girls program, but the Stinsons quickly zapped the mediocrity that existed at Davenport, punched a ticket to the state tournament in the spring of 1992 and had two championship banners hanging in the rafters of the Main Gym by the spring of 1993.
“We had a great team and won it (in 1992),” Greeny said. “… Just the next year, it was pressure. And I think we went undefeated my sophomore year, didn’t lose a game.”
The Gorillas, who also had standout guard Stacia Marriott – someone who’d join the exclusive club of players to score 2,000 career points – rattled off 30 wins and didn’t lose a game en route to their second consecutive state championship.
Because Davenport, which won four State 2B games by a combined 84 points, was rarely tested, the only thing that gave Jim Stinson anxiety was the complacency that naturally set it from time to time for a team that steamrolled smaller schools and habitually upset bigger ones, such as Coeur d’Alene.
He’d seen enough of it during one practice and booted the Gorillas from the gym, leaving Jennifer in a rare predicament.
“I was like, ‘Where do I go? Do I go home?’ ” she recalled. “And actually I went home and my mom was like, ‘What are you doing here?’ And I was like, ‘Dad kicked us out of practice.’
“… We probably thought we were better than we actually were and he was like, ‘Get out of here.’ But I literally sat in the locker room like, ‘Guys should I go home? What should I do?’ ”
Winning cures all. The Gorillas cruised through the 1993 tournament, beating St. George’s 67-55 in the championship, and Greeny, after Marriott and a few others graduated, carried the baton the next few years, leading Davenport to a second-place finish in ’94 and third place in ’95.
Greeny closed her high school career with a handful of records that, bluntly, she never quite cared for or kept track of, acknowledging, “I’ve never been a big stats person. Like, even now. So don’t tell (stats aficionado) Kyle (Smith).”
By the time she was finished, Greeny held tournament records for career points (421), field goals made (163), field goals attempted (305), free throws made (90), free throws attempted (130) and rebounds (212).
All that, in addition to the aforementioned single-game points (43) record. Good thing Greeny never grew too attached to her records, because that was one of the first to go.
The adoration Manson had for Smith derived not only from the guard’s ability to hit a jumper from just about every spot on the court, but also the perseverance, pride and passion that pulled the sharpshooter through a few rocky years on Lake Chelan.
By the time her career ended, Smith probably knew enough about the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus through her own experiences to put on an informational clinic. A spate of injuries to both forced her to reconstruct her game – no longer able to move with ease, cut with ferocity or drive to the basket with the same force she had when healthy.
Smith’s first taste of the State B tourney came in 1995, when she and Manson succumbed to Greeny and Davenport. Even as her body broke down, Smith relied on her internal strength – and the pursuit of another trip to Spokane – to help push her through one hurdle, then another and another after that.
All told, she’s had two ACL injuries and two meniscus repairs – three of those setbacks taking place during her career at Manson. Smith’s first ACL incident happened during her junior basketball season, in the district tournament, which essentially retired Manson’s hopes of a state tournament berth in 1997.
She fast-tracked the rehabilitation process, trimming a six-month procedure to five months, in order to return for her senior volleyball season.
“I think every kid is different and I probably shouldn’t have – in fact, I know I shouldn’t have come back to play volleyball,” Smith said. “I should’ve just rehabbed it and played basketball. But that’s the small-town draw.”
Smith, who’d started to collect Pac-10 hoops offers, stumbled into more misfortune on the volleyball court, landing awkwardly on a teammate’s foot after rising up for a block. A second ACL injury went undiagnosed, but Smith felt obligated to alert the schools recruiting her. Most reneged on their offers when they heard, but a discouraged Smith combated the hard news by continuing to play volleyball, leading the Trojans to seventh in the state tournament.
All seemed well until Smith put up a jumper during the first practice of her senior basketball season and heard a “pop” sound from the knee area.
“My parents happened to be out of town, so my coach took me down for my surgery,” Smith said. “And the doctor was like, ‘Should I repair it?’ My coach is like, ‘No, no, no. Just let it be how it is.’ ”
A full-fledged knee surgery would’ve kept her off the court the remainder of the season. Instead, the doctor only repaired her meniscus, allowing her to play after just a seven-game hiatus.
Beyond Smith’s career at Manson, she also suffered an injury during her freshman season at Saint Mary’s. Nonetheless, all of the ailments had a cumulative effect on her game.
“I don’t ever remember really being aggressive going to the basket,” Smith said, “because my gamed turned into – I was a jump shooter because I just didn’t want as much contact.”
Davis for 50
Manson brushed off a 2-5 start – the stretch of games the Trojans played without Smith – to book a return to the state tournament in 1998.
Smith brushed off every injury that had derailed her up to that point and pieced together one of the best four-game stretches witnessed by any player at the fabled Spokane tourney.
She opened with 32 points – accounting for half of Manson’s total – grabbed 18 rebounds and swatted five shots in a 62-32 rout of Cedar Park Christian, then followed with 25 points the next day, though Manson was outmatched against a well-rounded St. George’s team, losing 64-49.
It’s not irrational to assume that ignited what came next.
Manson drew Wahkiakum in a loser-out matchup that brought more fanfare than some championship games did. Smith scored seven points in the first quarter, 12 in both the second and third, and 19 in the fourth to finish with 50, topping the mark set by Greeny three years earlier. More than two decades and a few-thousand games later, it still hasn’t been touched.
“It was a split curtain, so the boys were going on and the girls,” Smith said. “And so as the number kind of reached up, I do remember people kind of coming over from the boys court or whatever. Then I remember my coaches pulling me out when I hit 50 or whatever, with like a minute to go or something like that.”
Word of the scoring mark quickly made it through State B spheres. Greeny learned of the record – set by the young, wiry freshman who guarded her three years earlier – through her father. The WSU volleyball player made a point to attend Smith’s final game in a Manson uniform, delivering a congratulatory letter to the Trojans guard after she finished off Sunnyside Christian with 31 points to set a single-tournament record (138) in a 66-55 win that secured fourth place.
Trying to remember the contents of the note, Smith said, “I know it was very encouraging of, congratulations on breaking the record, you have a bright future.”
Queen B’s reunite
While Kyle Smith was coaching at Columbia, Katie often got her college volleyball fix by tuning into Pac-12 matches on the other side of the country. When Alice Harris, a family friend of Katie’s from Chelan who’s also the mother of the Brooklyn Nets’ Joe Harris and former WSU volleyball player Jaicee Harris, mentioned Greeny was coaching in Pullman, Katie took a special interest in the Cougars.
They reconnected nearly a year ago, when Kyle Smith was formally introduced as WSU’s new basketball coach, assuring the audience, “In most parts of Eastern Washington, I’m definitely not the most famous member (of our family).”
The conversation they had a year ago mostly centered around Smith’s move to Pullman – Greeny offered to help get the family’s kids situated at new schools – so not until Monday had the two been able to sit down and relive their State B past.
Smith noted Greeny’s high school scoring record, among all classifications, was recently broken by Louisville-bound Cashmere guard Hailey Van Lith, to which Greeny joked, “I’m good for nothing anymore.”
Ask Greeny and she’ll say she took more satisfaction in holding the state scoring record for both boys and girls. Her 2,881 points stood for 24 years until Kittitas’ Brock Ravet moved past Greeny last year. Odessa’s Ryan Moffet then jumped Ravet last month.
For now, nine of the 23 individual 2B tournament records still belong to Smith or Greeny. The old adage says records are meant to be broken, and some might fall this weekend. But the legacies of two former Queen B’s will always stay intact.
“True story,” Kyle Smith said in 2019. “I was on the bus one time and this bus driver was talking about the Class B championships – which I’m like, ‘This is insane’ – and he mentioned he saw this girl score 50 and he talked about, she beat out Jen Stinson. I’m like, I was an assistant at Saint Mary’s, I said, ‘That’s my wife.’ ”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.