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Locally: Eastern Washington forward Tanner Groves named to HoopsHD.com midseason All-Big Sky Conference team

UPDATED: Sun., Jan. 3, 2021

Eastern Washington Eagles forward Tanner Groves (35) drives to the hoop against the College of Idaho during the first half of a college basketball game on Friday, December 11, 2020, at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.  (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-RE)
Eastern Washington Eagles forward Tanner Groves (35) drives to the hoop against the College of Idaho during the first half of a college basketball game on Friday, December 11, 2020, at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-RE)
From staff and news services

Tanner Groves, Eastern Washington’s 6-foot-9 junior forward, has been rewarded for a hot start to the 2020-21 basketball season. HoopsHD.com has named the Shadle Park graduate to its midseason All-Big Sky Conference team.

While the Eagles headed into the weekend with a 2-4 record, Groves has averages of 14.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game, making 55.2% from the field and 71.4% from the free throw line.

The Eagles’ two-time most inspirational player ranks first in the Big Sky in rebounding, second in field goal percentage, third in blocks and sixth in scoring. His free throw percentage is 12th.

• For the second time in three weeks, Washington State’s Charlisse Leger-Walker was named the Pac-12 Conference Women’s Basketball Freshman of the Week for the week ending Dec. 27.

The younger sister of Cougars’ redshirt senior Krystal Leger-Walker, the guard from Waikato, New Zealand, averaged 16.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game in a narrow Pac-12 loss to No. 8 Oregon and a wide-margin victory over Eastern Washington. The 16.0 average was the highest for any Pac-12 freshman that week.

Leger-Walker scored 20 points, including a career-best four 3-pointers, against Oregon. It was her third 20-point outing in the Cougars’ first five games. She scored 12 against Eastern, making the most of 21 minutes on the floor with 5-of-9 shooting, four rebounds and three steals.

•The WSU women’s basketball team will appear on television four times in the next 10 days on the Pac-12 Network Washington.

The Cougars will be home Friday (Jan. 8) for a 4 p.m. game against Arizona State and Jan. 10 for an 11 a.m. game against Arizona. They’ll play at USC on Jan. 15 with a 4:30 p.m., tip and at UCLA on Jan. 17 with an 11 a.m. start.

• Idaho sophomore Beyonce Bea collected a couple of honors after averaging 22 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocked shots and 2.0 assists per game in playing 72 minutes in a home win over Seattle University and a road loss at No. 6 Arizona in the week ending Dec. 27.

The Vandals’ season scoring leader was named Big Sky Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week for the first time in her career and received the same honor from collegesportsmadness.com.

The Washougal, Washington, native scored a career-high 33 points with seven rebounds, four blocks and three assists against Seattle and collected her second double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds against Arizona.

Bea leads the Vandals with a 16.3 scoring average and has a team-best 1.5 blocks per game.

• Whitworth University athletes can look forward to a return to competition in 2021, including taking care of some unfinished 2020 business, as soon as federal, state, local and NCAA health directives permit.

Current Northwest Conference plans call for league-only competitions against member schools from Washington, i.e., Whitworth, Whitman, Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound, because COVID protocols in Oregon restrict those member schools from practicing or playing.

Swimming and men’s and women’s basketball, whose seasons normally would have started in 2020, will get going later this month.

Volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer will start their abbreviated schedules in early February and football will join the party in mid-February. Because Whitman doesn’t have football, Whitworth’s four-game slate will include two games against PLU.

According to current NWC plans, spring sports will go on with conference-only schedules on traditional timelines.

The NWC basketball tournaments will be March 5-6 with or without the Oregon schools. Either way, the winners will receive the NWC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournaments, if they are held.

The NCAA has officially canceled its championships for football, volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer and cross country. Swimming and diving championships are unsure because of local protocols in Federal Way, Washington, site of the meet. The NWC is also undecided about hosting league championship tournaments in soccer and volleyball.

“We are excited about the opportunity to finally have almost all of our 21 teams compete,” said Whitworth Director of Athletics Tim Demant in a statement. “There has been a lot of planning and hard work by a lot of people to get us to this point, and we are confident that we can give our student-athletes a great experience, while keeping them safe.”

To find Whitworth schedules visit whitworthpirates.com.

• Because of COVID-19 provincial regulations and the continued closed border between the U.S. and Canada, the University of British Columbia was forced to opt out of Cascade Collegiate Conference play in softball and baseball for the 2021 season, the conference announced.

That reduced the NAIA league to 10 teams in softball and five in baseball resulting in major schedule revisions in both sports. Baseball will be played between Feb. 27 and May 2 with its tournament to follow. Softball play will be March 5-May 1 with a tournament May 7-9.

Football

Jerry Louie-McGee, a former Lake City High School and University of Montana standout, has signed to play professionally with Edmonton, the Canadian Football League team announced.

The 2015 Lake City graduate, who became one of Montana’s best all-time receivers and kick returners during a career from 2016-19, was named to the Edmonton Football Team’s negotiation list in September and signed just before Christmas.

The 5-9, 171-pounder is Montana’s all-time leader in pass receptions and finished his Grizzlies career with 230 catches for 2,277 yards. As a kick returner, he is tied for most punt returns for a TD in school history with three and is among the school’s top-10 all-time in all-purpose yards with 3,685 for his career.

As a senior, he was a unanimous All-Big Sky first-team selection as a punt returner. He led the league in punt return yards with a 17.1 average, a figure that ranked fourth in the FCS.

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