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Sports >  High school sports

Lexie Hull, Lacie Hull go from ‘League of Champions’ to NCAA championship game with Stanford

The Greater Spokane League calls itself the “League of Champions.” In the next couple of days it may be able to claim three of its own as NCAA basketball champions.

Two graduates of the Central Valley girls program will have their shot at the women’s title Sunday.

Lexie Hull stars for Stanford, a one-point winner over No. 2 South Carolina in a semifinal, while twin sister Lacie is a key reserve and defensive specialist for the Cardinal (30-2). They’ll face Arizona (20-5), which upset No. 1 Connecticut on Friday to reach the title game.

In Indianapolis, Anton Watson is a local-hero-makes-good for the Gonzaga men’s team, and there’s been no shortage of local press on the Gonzaga Prep alum – and rightfully so.

The Hulls received every honor conceivable during their high school careers.

Lexie Hull is one of the most decorated players in the history of girls high school basketball in the state. She was twice named Gatorade State Player of the Year and was a three-time Associated Press 4A State Player of the Year.

Lacie was named the state coaches association 4A player of the year her senior season, named to the 4A all-state first team and was the Seattle Times co-player of the year with her sister.

The pair went 102-6 in their prep career with two state titles and a win at the GEICO Nationals in New York.

The honors are continuing in college. Lexie was named All-Pac-12 and Lacie was named conference sixth person of the year.

Their high school coach, Freddie Rehkow, was recently named boys coach at Ridgeline, the new Central Valley School District high school in Liberty Lake. He’s ready to watch his former pupils play for a national championship.

“Oh, I’m super excited,” he said on Wednesday after Stanford’s comeback win over Louisville in a quarterfinal on Tuesday.

“I was a little nervous (Tuesday) night, I’m not gonna lie, you know, watching that game,” he said. “I think the coach part of me came out where I’m like, ‘Gotta relax, move the ball, do all those things.’ But no, I’m so happy for them.”

Rehkow’s not surprised to see the Hulls competing for a title at the next level.

“They know how to win, regardless at what level,” he said. “And so to see them getting to go and enjoy the Final Four stage and hopefully they (win) the national championship, I think that would just be a feather in their cap.

“Anytime you bring the energy and effort that they bring, day in and day out, results like these aren’t that surprising.”

Rehkow said he watches the Hulls’ college games – and many of his other former players – as much as he can.

“I watched pretty much every game this year,” he said. “Anything that’s televised or if I can stream. I watched them, I try to watch Haley (Christopher) at Idaho. Tomekia (Whitman) down at Idaho State, any game that I can catch where I have a stream connection to or watch on Pac-12 (Network) or Pluto (TV) or whatever.

“I look in the papers, I look for box scores of all my former players that I can find information on and it’s like a proud dad moment, because I want them all to do well.”

He stays in touch as much as possible with his former players, but only to offer encouragement or support.

He leaves the coaching up to their college coach.

“They’re playing for Coach VanDerveer – I’m not stepping in the way of a Hall of Fame coach,” he joked. “I think she’s doing a great job with them. I know they love it down there. My conversations with them are, you know, ‘Hey, how are you doing? I’m just proud of you guys’ and I think that’s what my role now is.

“I’m always available, if they were to ever need it.”

Rehkow takes great pride in seeing the Hulls, and all his former players, have success at the next level.

“They’ve had a lot of great coaches, from parents all the way through Ron Adams with their AAU programs,” he said. “I think the thing where I draw my satisfaction is just when I watch my former players play just the tenacity of their defense and the class they demonstrate on the floor at all times.

“They’re just respectful young women who just play the game so hard. And to me that’s what I’ve tried to have my players do.”

It’s the Hulls’ intensity on the floor that separates them from other players.

“Every time I hear an announcer talking about, ‘Lacie and Lexie, their defense and they’re all over the place,’ I’m just like, I love that because that’s just what we did and that’s, you know, they were great examples and leaders of that for my program,” Rehkow said.

The Greater Spokane League has placed a girls team in the State 4A title game in 17 of the past 20 years, with 12 champions.

Rehkow is proud that the Hulls are carrying the banner for Spokane girls basketball in the NCAA title game.

“People underestimate the type of basketball that is played here in the state of Washington and I find that so hard to believe,” he said.

“Here on the East Side, if you look at it – I mean, Mt. Spokane going to the state championship, CV, Gonzaga Prep … We have some great basketball here. They might not be the biggest names, but they know how to play basketball, and that’s such a cool feeling knowing that when you’re in Spokane, you know, as they call themselves ‘Hoop Town,’ that we do. We really have kids that just love the game and know the game. The basketball IQ is awesome.”

Rehkow wishes nothing but the best for the Hulls as they get a chance to shine on college basketball’s biggest stage.

“I think the biggest thing is just how proud we are of them, you know, being from Spokane and especially from Central Valley,” he said.

“But for me personally, I’m just super proud and I hope they win it all. I hope they get to stand on that mountaintop just like all the other mountaintops they’ve been able to stand on top of. They deserve it. Nobody works harder than those two, I can guarantee you.”

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