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Locally: Washington State women’s basketball adds Australia’s Tayah Burrows

UPDATED: Sun., May 2, 2021

Washington State head coach Kamie Ethridge calls out plays to her team against South Florida during the second half of a college basketball game in the first round of the women's NCAA tournament, Sunday, March 21, 2021, in Austin, Texas.   (Associated Press)
Washington State head coach Kamie Ethridge calls out plays to her team against South Florida during the second half of a college basketball game in the first round of the women's NCAA tournament, Sunday, March 21, 2021, in Austin, Texas.  (Associated Press)
From staff and news services

From staff and news services

Washington State has added another international weapon to its women’s basketball roster.

Coach Kamie Ethridge announced the signing of Tayah Burrows, a 5-foot-9 guard from Perth, Australia, who played last season in the country’s top women’s professional league.

The Cougars return several players with international connections, including two from Australia, and were led last season by Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and scoring champion Charlisse Leger-Walker from New Zealand.

Burrows will have to sit out her first semester in Pullman, becoming eligible to play for the Cougars at the conclusion of the 2021 fall semester.

“Tayah is exactly what we love in our point guards: tough, competitive, smart, feisty, skilled and relentless,” Ethridge is quoted in a release announcing the signing. “Tayah brings an elite-skill-set to our guard game. Her ball handling, ability to score at all three levels and play-making ability will make her an impact player in the Pac-12.”

“She has played at the highest level of Australian basketball and against older professionals,” Ethridge said. “Her level of conditioning, fitness and competitiveness will make her an immediate contributor in our program.”

Burrows played for her hometown team, the Perth Lynx, in Australia’s Women’s National Basketball League in 2019 and 2020 and was one of the youngest players in the WNBL. She was named the 2020 Perth Lynx Youth Player of the Year after shooting 36.8% from the field and averaged 1.8 assists per game, averaging 16.8 minutes a game.

In the summer of 2020, she played for the Rockingham Flames in the State Basketball West Coast Classic, a 10-week competition that began in July and pitted some of the elite basketball club programs in Australia against one another. She averaged a team-best 19.5 points and 4.6 assists per game while shooting 47.7% from the field and 40.6% from behind the arc.

Basketball

Katie (Baker) Faulkner of Coeur d’Alene, an assistant coach at Oregon State the last five years, has been hired for a similar position at the University of Washington by new Huskies women’s coach Tina Langley.

A 2009 graduate of Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy, she was the Idaho Gatorade Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year as a sophomore, junior and senior playing for Lake City HS. She led the Timberwolves to the Idaho Class 5A state title as a sophomore in 2007.

Faulkner, considered one of the best post players in Montana basketball history after leading the Grizzlies in scoring for four years and earning four All-Big Sky Conference awards, will also serve as the Huskies’ recruiting coordinator besides coaching responsibilities.

The UW release said “she has earned the reputation as one of the best assistants in America with a proven track record of developing post players, recruiting top talent, and helping players reach the WNBA.”

Faulkner recently interviewed for the vacant head coaching position at her alma mater, but Montana selected another of Oregon State’s women’s assistants, associate head coach Brian Holsinger, to lead the Grizzlies.

College scene

Scout Cai of Colfax, who elected to return to Seattle Pacific for her senior track and field season after the 2020 schedule was wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic, broke the Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s pole vault record Friday during the Buc Scoring Invitational at Whitworth’s Boppell Stadium.

Cai set the new mark at 13 feet, 3 inches on her second attempt after breaking the record at 13-2½ on her way to 13-3. The old mark of 13-1¼ was set in 2017.

“It felt so good; that has been my goal my whole college career,” she said. “I’ve been wanting to clear 13 feet, so I’m glad I could do that today. It was just a great day to PR. At the beginning, it was super hot, so I didn’t have to warm up as much, which was nice.”

• Eastern Washington, which has five women’s pole vaulters who have cleared 12 feet or more this season, were ranked No. 8 nationally last week in Division I in the Event Squad Rankings posted by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association with a 13-foot, 2-inch average.

Under the direction of pole vault coach Eric Allison, the group includes senior Morgan Fossen (13-8½), freshman Savannah Schultz (13-7¾), junior Katrina Terry (13-3½), junior Hally Ruff (12-0) and sophomore Rosalie Folger-Vent (12-0). Fossen, Schultz and Terry rank 1-2-3 in the Big Sky.

• Zach Short’s season-best shot put of 63 feet, ¼ inch at the Idaho Invitational on April 24 earned the Idaho senior Big Sky Conference Field Athlete of the Week. The mark ranks 18th in the NCAA in Division I and 11th in the West.

• Cade Coffey, an Idaho senior from Lakeland HS of Rathdrum, one of the country’s top punters and kickers, has been selected as a semifinalist for college football’s Punter of the Year Award by the Augusta Sports Council, which annually honors the player it selects as the top punter in the Football Championship Subdivision.

In the shortened 2021 season, Coffey averaged 45.8 yards per punt and dropped 16 of 26 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard-line. His net average of nearly 44.0 yards per punt was among the best in the nation and was the second best average in program history.

Coffey is the fourth consecutive Idaho punter to earn All-America honors, doing so in both 2017 and 2018. He leaves the program in third place in punting yardage and punting average. His 218 punts were the fifth most.

Coffey earned All-Big Sky second team honors as a punter in 2021 and honorable mention as a kicker.

• Jaya Allen appears to have recovered from what has been described as a non-playing injury to be named North Star Athletic Association softball pitcher of the week on April 26.

The Dickinson (North Dakota) State junior from Shadle Park pitched three complete-game victories as the Blue Hawks had a 4-1 week. She had 12 strikeouts in a 9-0 win at Presentation (South Dakota) and 15 more in three appearances against Dakota State. She allowed one earned run in 26 2/3 innings, limiting her opponents to 15 hits and two walks.

At the plate, Allen went 6 for 15 with two home runs, nine RBI and five runs scored.

Besides leading the NSAA in ERA (1.24), runs allowed per game (1) and saves (2), she is ranked nationally in NAIA Division I in eight pitching categories, including second in fewest walks per game (0.41) and fourth in fewest total walks (7).

• Zane Mills’ six-hit, 4-2 complete-game victory at California on April 24 earned the Washington State junior right-hander his second Pac-12 baseball pitcher of the week award this season. Mills retired the first eight batters before a fielding error produced the Golden Bears’ first base runner. He struck out 10 in pitching WSU’s first complete game since 2018.

• Gonzaga sophomore right-fielder Grayson Sterling was named West Coast Conference baseball player of the week on April 26 after he went 6 for 12 with one double, a home run, one RBI and three runs scored in leading the Zags to a 4-0 week. He also had seven catches in right.

• Gonzaga junior Ernie Yake has been named to the 100-man watch list for the 2021 Brooks Wallace Award, given annually to college baseball’s best shortstop, the College Baseball Foundation announced.

The Bulldogs’ leadoff hitter was batting .316 last week and ranked 35th in the nation as one of the toughest batters to strike out. Yake complements his consistency at the plate with a .950 fielding percentage.

A left-handed batter, Yake was named to the Collegiate Baseball Freshmen All-America Team in 2018. At the end of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, D1Baseball ranked him No. 23 nationally among shortstops.

• Justin Lutz, a Montana State Billings junior catcher transfer from Spokane Falls CC, was named Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Week after he went 4 for 7 in two games with two doubles, a solo home run, four runs scored and three RBI that included delivering the winning run in a 6-5 victory over Saint Martin’s on April 22.

• For the fifth time in his 16 years leading the Gonzaga women’s golf team, but the first since 2014, Brad Rickel was named 2021 WCC Women’s Golf Coach of the Year and three of the players who led the Zags to their first WCC championship were first-team all-conference.

Sophomore Cassie Kim, who tied for second in the WCC Championships; junior Quynn Duong, who tied for fourth; and freshman Mary Scott Wolfe, who tied for 10th, were All-WCC. Kim was a Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-American as a freshman and Duong was first-team All-WCC and the league’s Freshman of the Year in 2018-19.

Duong led the team with a 73.35 stoke average and had four Top-5 finishes. Wolfe had a 74.86 stroke average and Kim a 75.06.

• Isaac Emerson, a Northwest Nazarene senior from Central Valley, was named to the All-GNAC golf second team. Emerson is just outside the top 10 in the GNAC with a 75.8 scoring average. He had one top-five finish and two top-10s, highlighted by a runner-up finish at the LC State Warrior Spring Invitational.

• Jose Suryadinata, the Big Sky Freshman of the Year and first-team all-conference, was named the Idaho Vandals’ the Most Valuable Player and Freshman of the Year when golf coach David Nuhn passed out team awards.

Sean Mullan received the Senior Award and junior Jack Plaster from Gonzaga Prep took home the Most Improved Vandal award.

• Lexi Mikkelsen, Carroll College’s junior outside hitter from Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls, was honorable mention on the spring 2021 American Volleyball Coaches Association NAIA Northwest Region team. It is Mikkelsen’s second AVCA NAIA regional award.

• The Gonzaga men’s rowing team defeated Washington State in both races at the Johnson Family Boathouse on Silver Lake on Saturday to win the Fawley Cup for the fifth straight time, but both the Bulldogs and Cougars were defeated by Santa Clara in both the Varsity 8 and JV8 on the 2,000-meter course.

• The Washington State University Academic Services selected baseball player Kodie Kolden and swimmer Chloe Larsen its student-athletes of the month for April.

A junior shortstop, Kolden has a 3.91 GPA as a Kinesiology major. As a sophomore, he earned a spot on the Pac-12 Conference spring academic honor roll in his first year of eligiblitity. On the field, Kolden is having a career year with a .321 batting average, two home runs and 27 RBI in 34 games.

Larsen has a 3.75 GPA in Kinesiology with plans to pursue a graduate degree in nursing and has earned Pac-12 all-academic honors the last two years and gained President’s Honor Roll recognition. She won the Pac-12 50 freestyle this winter, the first conference title in program history, and has swum a time that qualifies her for the U.S. Olympic Team trials.

Football

The University of Idaho announced it will not host any individual or team camps this summer because of remodeling/updating work on the school’s athletic facilities.

The outdoor turf field to the east of the Kibbie Dome will be replaced, the Fueling Center inside the Kibbie Dome will be updated and the Kibbie Dome itself will see upgrades throughout. Also, construction on the new ICCU Arena continues, with a grand opening scheduled this fall.

Golf

Corey Prugh, the Community Colleges of Spokane coach, and Russell Grove, coach at North Idaho College, had top-50 finishes in the 312-player, 53rd PGA Professional Championship April 25-28 in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Prugh shot 7-over-par 294 (71-75-74-74) to tie for 48th and Grove finished at 8-over 295 (73-72-72-78) to tie for 55th. Seventy-two players made the 54-hole cut.

Omar Uresti from Austin, Texas, won the tournament for a second time, a 3-stroke victory with an 11-under 276.

Hockey

David Jiricek, a 17-year-old defenseman from the Czech Republic who was selected by the Spokane Chiefs with the 54th pick in last summer’s CHL Import Draft, has been named the Czech Extraliga’s 2020-21 Rookie of the Year.

The 2003-born Jiricek, considered a top prospect for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, had three goals and six assists in 34 games with HC Plzen in the Extraliga, the Czech Republic’s top men’s league.

He was the Czech team MVP at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship and earned roster spots on the Czech Republic’s national team for the Karjala Cup and the U18 World Championship team.

• The Chiefs are teaming up with Numerica Credit Union with a Fight Hunger Week campaign through May 9 that will direct proceeds to Second Harvest food bank. Find details on how you can participate, including an auction of Chiefs memorabilia and sale of gear, at spokanechiefs.com.

• The Western Hockey League announced that none of the five games in the U.S. Division that have been canceled because of COVID-19 protocol will be rescheduled. That means, barring further cancellations this week, the Chiefs will finish the truncated season with 21 games on May 9 against Seattle in Kent, capping a busy week of six games in nine days.

The East Division, which played all its games in Regina, Saskatchewan, finished April 28 with the Brandon Wheat Kings claiming the championship with an 18-4-2 record. Games were played in what was dubbed the Subway Hub Center at the Brandt Center, home of the Regina Pats.

The WHL said there were no positive cases of COVID-19 from the 1,930 tests conducted in the division from March 5-April 24.

Letters of intent

Gonzaga men’s cross country/track & field: Freshman: Will Thorsett, distances, Sisters (Oregon) HS.

Gonzaga women’s cross country/track & field: Grad transfer: Elisabeth Danis, distances, Nottingham, New Hampshire/University of New Hampshire.

Eastern Washington women’s soccer: Transfer: Meghan Singh, Mesa, Arizona/University of Idaho.

Miscellany

Garrett Haldeman, who has worked at Oregon State University the last 12 years, has been hired by the University of Idaho as associate athletic director for business.

At Oregon State, Halderman worked his way up in the athletics business office. His day-to-day responsibilities included monitoring the athletics travel budget, developing and maintaining expense projections, and working with teams and staff on financial procedures.

A graduate of Bowling Green with a degree in sport management, he earned an MBA from Western Governors University. He has been a volunteer at a number of championship events in the Pac-12 and has spent time working with Special Olympics.

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