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Locally: Eastern Washington’s Tanner Groves named to Henson Award midseason watchlist

Eastern Washington Eagles forward Tanner Groves (35) shoots against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds during the first half of a college basketball game on Saturday, January 16, 2021, at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.  (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-RE)
Eastern Washington Eagles forward Tanner Groves (35) shoots against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds during the first half of a college basketball game on Saturday, January 16, 2021, at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-RE)
From staff and news services

Tanner Groves of Eastern Washington, a dominant force in the Big Sky Conference this season, was selected last week to the mid-season watch list for the 2020-21 Lou Henson National Player of the Year Award.

The 6-foot-9 redshirt junior forward from Shadle Park is one of 40 candidates for the award, which is presented annually to the top mid-major player in NCAA Division I college men’s basketball. It honors the former Illinois and New Mexico State head coach who won 775 games in 41 seasons. The award will be presented in April.

Groves went into last week leading the Big Sky in rebounding (9.1 per game) and field goal percentage (.577). He was also fifth in scoring (16.8), fifth in blocked shots (1.1) and fourth in free throw percentage (.820) after losing a streak of 27 in a row dating to Dec. 19.

Four other Big Sky players are also on the Henson list: Bodie Hume, Northern Colorado; Cameron Shelton, Northern Arizona; Isiah Brown, Weber State; and Maizen Fausett, Southern Utah.

College scene

When the Northwest Conference selected its first student-athletes of the week for 2021, it turned to Whitworth to bestow two of the honors.

Senior Miguel Lopez was named men’s basketball player of the week and senior Cameron Lyon was honored in women’s swimming.

Lopez led the Pirates to two victories, shooting better than 65% from the floor and averaging 20.5 points per game. He also led Whitworth in rebounding, averaging 8.0 per game, and added three total assists.

Lyon led Whitworth to a win over defending NWC champion Whitman by winning both her individual events and led off the winning 200-yard freestyle relay. Her winning time in the 1,650 free was a season-best by 12 seconds and she bettered her season-best in the 500 free by three seconds.

Trystan Bradley, a Lewis-Clark State senior from Lewiston, was named the Cascade Collegiate Conference men’s basketball player of the week on Jan. 25 for the second time this season after leading the fourth-ranked NAIA Warriors to two wins.

He had a double-double in one game (23 points, 10 rebounds), scoring the 1,000th point of his career in the process, the16th Warrior to reach the milestone. Nine points (and nine rebounds) in the second game gave him 1,011 career points heading into this week.

• Senior Chloe Larson of Washington State broke her own Gibb Pool record in the women’s 50-yard freestyle on Friday in Pullman in the Cougars’ 162-98 victory over Idaho. The senior from Rapid City, S.D., took .11 seconds off the mark she set on Jan. 29 with a 22.59-second sprint.

• Gonzaga senior defender Jordan Thompson, who has started all 51 of her collegiate matches, was named to the Preseason All-West Coast Conference women’s soccer team and the Bulldogs were selected fourth in the coaches’ annual preseason poll.

Thompson, a team captain for three years and an anchor on the GU defense, has played nearly 4,600 minutes.

GU, with its best preseason ranking since 2006, matched a program record with 12 wins last season and won five league games for the second consecutive season. BYU was picked to win a third straight WCC title after advancing to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals in 2019.

• Six athletes with area ties who are at least sophomores with a 3.25 GPA or above where selected to the Frontier Conference 2020-21 Academic All-Conference Volleyball team.

The honorees by school: Carroll College: Kylie Kackman, junior, Colfax; Katherine McEuen, jr., Mead; Lexi Mikkelsen, jr., Lakeside Nine Mile Falls. Montana Tech: Sydney Parks, senior, Post Falls; Logan Reed, jr., Oakesdale. University of Providence: Ashley Mitchell, sophomore, Almira/Coulee-Hartline.

• Seniors Isaac Bonton from men’s basketball and Emily Coombs from women’s track and field are the Washington State Academic Services Student-Athletes of the Month for January.

In his second year at WSU, Bonton has been a leader on and off the court as he works toward a degree in social science. He’s been a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Black Student-Athlete Association and spent time with teammates volunteering at Pullman schools. On the court, Bonton is averaging 18.0 ppg, third in the Pac-12.

Coombs, a pole vaulter, has a 3.99 GPA in pursuit of her degree in elementary education. She has participated in Coug Pals and Butch’s Bash. In the 2020 indoor season, she won the UW Last Chance College Elite pole vault (12-feet, 10 1/4 inches) and was named to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Indoor honor roll and the Pac-12 Spring Academic honor roll.

• With three returning all-conference players, senior Valeria Patino and juniors Vicky Tsai and Eddie Hsu, Idaho was picked to finish second behind reigning champion Sacramento State in the Big Sky Conference coaches’ preseason women’s golf poll.

The Vandals were runners-up to the Hornets in 2019, the last year a women’s golf season was contested. Golf was wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Eastern Washington, which received one first-place vote and returns two-time all-conference honoree Alexa Clark, a senior, was tabbed fifth.

• Idaho was selected to finish fifth in the Big Sky Conference men’s golf coaches’ preseason poll. Sacramento State had a one-point lead over Northern Colorado to win the title.

Golf

Derek Bayley rebounded smartly on the Outlaw Tour last week, putting together a 1-under-par 69 on Monday to finish second by a stroke in the 18-hole Western Skies Shootout in Gilbert, Arizona.

The former Lakeland High School and Washington State star from Rathdrum closed out his round going 3-under-par on the final four holes after starting the back nine plus-three on the first five holes after the turn.

The preceding week, Jan. 19-21, Bayley tied for 45th at 1-over 217 (74-72-71) in the Outlaw Tour Major: The MCormick Open in Tucson, Ariz.

Letters of intent

Gonzaga men’s track/cross country: Carpenter Mukai, distances, Mukilteo, Wash. (Kamiak HS).

Lewis-Clark State men’s cross country: Brycen Kempton, Post Falls; two-time all-district, 5k best 16 minutes, 6 seconds.

Weber State women’s track/cross country: Angelyca Chapman, Lake City, sprinter/distances; won two titles in 2020 5A Inland Empire League track championships.

Chemeketa Community College volleyball: Kamden Fiddes, OPP/MB, Post Falls.

Softball

Tim Coles of Garfield, Washington, drove in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning as Coeur d’Alene-based North Idaho Softball Club defeated the Florida Mustangs 15-14 to win the Senior Softball USA Tournament of Champions’ 65/70+ Gold AAA division last week in Lakeland, Florida.

Coles, voted the team’s tournament MVP, had an .842 on-base-percentage as North Idaho went 6-0 to follow up its unbeaten run to the Senior Softball World Championship in its division in September in Las Vegas.

Coles was joined on the all-tournament team by Lee Libera, whose .870 on-base percentage led the team; Ron Geffre (.833); Dennis Wolff (.762); and outfielder Dick Stauffer, who provided key hits and steady defense.

Other team members: Pitcher Ray Hoftad, named the team MVP; Paul Cooley; Jim Palombi (coach); Marlin Harris; Wayne Becker; Terry Graham; and John Walkington.

Spokane Valley-based Stor-A-Way Storage Grey Sox had a 2-3 record in the division with a .634 team batting average. “We were competitive in all but one game, but our bats went cold in the late innings of the critical games,” said coach Ron Klawitter.

Randy Willis led the team with a .750 batting average. Klawitter and Tim Wheatley both hit .722.

Other Grey Sox team members: Jack Parker (13 RBIs), Allen Arnold, Jerry Coulter, Dan Griffith, Donn Etherington, Cam Preston, Mark Reilly and John Hollett.

Miscellany

Jon Haarlow, the senior associate athletics director/chief operating officer at Lamar University the last three years, has been hired by Washington State as senior associate athletic director/chief financial officer, WSU director of athletics Patrick Chun announced.

Haarlow will be responsible for all business operations, including budget development, implementation and reporting as well as oversight of non-sport contracts and department audits. He will also represent the athletic department on fiscal issues throughout campus and with all external agencies, such as the NCAA and Pac-12 Conference.

A 2009 graduate of Indiana, Haarlow received a master’s degree from New Mexico in 2010, where he spent three years as a program specialist overseeing a staff of fiscal technicians providing support for the day-to-day business operations to the university’s 22 varsity sports.

• Two Washington State athletics coaching staff members, volleyball’s Marit Thorkildsen and track and field/cross country’s CharLee Linton, have been selected to participate in the inaugural Coach Development Academy.

The 12-week digital course provides the foundation for coaches to feel confident and competent as they pursue a career in coaching.

Linton, a former WSU cross country runner, is a cross country and track and field assistant. Thorkildsen, a three-year letter-winner at Gonzaga who completed her career in 2018, is a graduate assistant with the WSU volleyball program.

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