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Locally: Former Idaho standout Taylor Pierce returns to Vandals as assistant coach

UPDATED: Mon., May 24, 2021

Idaho guard Taylor Pierce (14) drives, scores and draws a foul on Northern Arizona's Khiarcia Rasheed (15) in the first round of a Big Sky Conference women's tournament NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, March 12, 2019, at CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho.  (Associated Press)
Idaho guard Taylor Pierce (14) drives, scores and draws a foul on Northern Arizona's Khiarcia Rasheed (15) in the first round of a Big Sky Conference women's tournament NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, March 12, 2019, at CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho. (Associated Press)
From staff and news services

It’s a homecoming for Taylor Pierce and Tim Marrion.

The two former members of the Vandals basketball family have been hired as assistant coaches for the Idaho women’s (Pierce) and men’s (Marrion) programs.

Pierce, a standout guard for the Vandals from 2015-19 and half of the high-scoring “Splash Sisters” along with backcourt running mate Mikayla Ferenz, is the all-time leading 3-point scorer in Idaho women’s basketball history.

Besides setting several school records, she set NCAA marks as well, including the women’s all-time record of 154 3-pointers in the 2018-19 season.

“I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Taylor back home here on my staff,” coach Jon Newlee said in a school announcement.

“Having the chance to hire a future Idaho Hall of Famer was a no-brainer. Her basketball IQ was off the charts during her playing career, and I am so excited for our players to be able to learn from one of the greatest players to ever put on a Vandals uniform.”

Pierce, from Carlsbad, California, will focus primarily on the development of guards and wings, Newlee said. She graduated from Idaho in 2019 with a degree in exercise science. In 2020, she signed to play in the Australian NBL 1 South League, but the season was canceled because of COVID-19.

Marrion, who has an extensive coaching résumé on the West Coast and the Palouse, was last at Idaho during the 2015-16 season as director of basketball operations. The Vandals were 21-13 and played in the College Basketball Invitational. He has last two seasons as an assistant at San Jose State.

“I have the utmost confidence in his ability to impact the guys both on and off the court,” UI head coach Zac Claus said in a school release. “Having had the chance to work alongside Tim previously, I am more than aware of his work ethic, talent and integrity.”

Originally from Nottingham, England, Marrion received his bachelor’s degree in sport management with a minor in leadership studies from Washington State in three years, graduating in 2006.

He started his coaching career in 2006-07 at San Jose State, where he has had spent three stints. When he became a full-time aide there in 2007-08, it was believed he was the youngest full-time assistant coach in NCAA Division I men’s basketball.

He has also had three stints at WSU – 2009-12, 2013-14 and 2016-19 – spending 2016-18 as coordinator of basketball operations and the 2018-19 season as an assistant coach.

• First-year Eastern Washington head men’s basketball coach David Riley hired two assistants with extensive collegiate experience, Arturo Ormond, who will be Riley’s associate head coach, and Mark Darnall.

Ormond has spent the past two seasons as an assistant at Texas-El Paso. He has also coached at Fresno State, Centenary, Maryland Eastern Shore, Texas-Pan American and Tuskegee.

“Arturo’s coaching experience at multiple Division I schools, along with his player development track record, will be a huge asset to the program,” Riley is quoted in a school release.

Darnall has spent the past four seasons at NCAA Division II Chico State in California, where he was the top assistant. In July , he was selected one of the 50 most impactful Division II assistant coaches in the country by Silver Waves Media. The Wildcats had two postseason appearances the past three seasons.

Darnall also had nearly a decade at UW-Platteville in Wisconsin and UC Davis in California.

College scene

Swimming All-American Jamie Siegler and tennis player Kincaid Norris, both seniors, were recognized with the Whitworth athletic department’s special year-ending awards.

Siegler, a three-time NCAA Division III All-American, received the Dennis Spurlock Award. Named for the late Pirates All-American quarterback (1958-61), it goes to a student-athlete who best models the qualities of Spurlock, namely modesty, poise and leadership, and one who draws respect toward the school.

A breaststroke specialist, she broke the Northwest Conference 100-yard record three times during her career, leaving it at 1 minute, 2.87 seconds. She also holds school records in the 200 breast and 50 freestyle.

Norris received the Aaron Leetch Inspiration Award that honors the memory of the former Whitworth director of athletics who died in an airplane crash in April 2015. It recognizes a student-athlete who embodies inspiration, passion, perseverance and dedication to their sport.

Norris showed a willingness to play through injuries and personal challenges, finishing his senior season with a 7-10 record in singles, mostly playing at No. 2, and 4-12 in doubles.

• A couple of two-run losses on May 17 ended the NAIA national softball tournament for Jaya Allen of Spokane and Dickinson State (North Dakota) on the first day. Dickinson lost 2-0 to site host and No. 2 ranked Oklahoma City University and 4-2 to No. 25 Midland (Nebraska).

The junior pitcher from Shadle Park absorbed the losses. She allowed one earned run on six hits and no walks with one strikeout in the first game and four earned runs on 11 hits and two walks with seven strike outs in the second game. She ended the season with an 18-6 record, 1.07 ERA and 166 strikeouts in 163⅓ innings.

No. 20-ranked Ottawa (Kansas) defeated Midland 11-1 to win the bracket and advance to the NAIA Softball World Series.

• Gonzaga junior Sophia Braun and Washington State senior Elyse Bennett were named to the 2020-21 United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division I Women’s Scholar All-West Region second team.

Braun, who played for her native Argentina in the 2021 She Believes Cup, has a 3.86 GPA in computer science. Bennett, who earned a degree in biology last year and is pursuing a second in psychology, is a three-time Pac-12 All-Academic honoree with a GPA of 3.40 or above.

Havana Johnson, a McNeese State senior forward from Lake City HS, was named to the Southland Conference all-academic team in women’s soccer for a second straight year with a 3.61 GPA. Last month, she was named all-conference for a third time after leading the Cowgirls in scoring (five goals, 11 points).

• The Great Northwest Athletic Conference men’s and women’s soccer offensive player of the week awards for Week 19 went to a couple of senior midfielders at Seattle Pacific from area high schools.

Travis Swallow (Lake City) received the men’s award after scoring his second goal of the season in the seventh minute that earned the Falcons’ a 1-1 draw with Western Washington in the season finale. Claire Neder (Mead) was the women’s recipient after she scored in the 68th and 85th minutes as the Falcons snapped a 21-match winless streak to Western with a 4-1 win.

• Washington State senior Michaela Bayerlova has been named to the 2021 All-Pac-12 second team in women’s tennis after she was a first-team selection her first two years before COVID-19 cut short the 2020 season.

• Washington State received an at-large invitation and will join West Coast Conference champion Gonzaga in the 2021 women’s NCAA Division I Rowing Championships Friday-Sunday in Sarasota, Florida. Twenty-two schools are in the field.

It’s the 14th NCAA regatta for 19th-ranked WSU but its first since 2018. There was no event in 2020. The Cougars are seeded 13th in the first varsity 8, 15th in the second varsity 8 and 12th in varsity 4. WSU, led by its varsity 4’s third-place finish, was fifth in the seven-school Pac-12 Championships May 16 at Lake Natoma, California.

Gonzaga, the six-time reigning WCC champion in its sixth straight NCAA regatta and seventh overall, has its first varsity 8 and varsity 4 boats both seeded 18th and its second varsity 8 seeded 21st.

No. 1 Washington, which has held the top spot in every coaches’ poll this spring, will be out to defend the title it won in the last championships in 2019 when it swept all three finals.

The Pac-12’s automatic qualifier after winning a third straight conference title on May 16, the Huskies are seeded No. 2 behind Texas in first varsity 8, first in second varsity 8 and fifth in varsity 4. UW, one of two schools (Brown is the other) to have competed in all 23 previous championships, is a five-time NCAA champion.

• Gonzaga will join No. 1-ranked Washington and Oregon State as Northwest representatives in the 2021 men’s Intercollegiate Rowing Association Regatta Friday and Saturday at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, New Jersey.

The Bulldogs, UW and OSU are among 31 schools in the varsity heavyweight 8 and second varsity 8. There are also third varsity 8, with UW and OSU in those fields, and varsity 4 that includes the Huskies. Time trials and semifinals will determine finals seeding. Winner of the varsity 8 Grand Final is considered the collegiate national champion.

• Four athletes at Washington State with area ties and Stanford women’s basketball players Lacie and Lexie Hull from Central Valley, were named to 2020-21 Pac-12 fall and winter academic honor rolls with GPAs of 3.3 or above.

From WSU on the fall list are Seth Yost, a redshirt senior on the football team, and soccer sophomore Bridget Rieken, both from Lake City HS. Winter honorees include swimmers Payton Bokowy, a junior from Sandpoint, and Taylor McCoy, a senior from Pullman.

• Distributing some additional postseason football honors:

Nate RuPue, Whitworth’s junior kicker, was named the “In the Huddle” NCAA Division III Special Teams Player of the Year. He did not miss a kick in the four-game 2020-21 season, making all four of his field goals and all 19 extra points, while averaging 38.6 yards on 14 punts.

Thanks to the school’s 14th NCAA Football Championship Subdivision berth, Eastern Washington finished 10th in the Stats Perform Top-25 poll, the 10th time in school history it finished that high in the Stats poll. The 5-2 Eagles were 11th in the final American Football Coaches Association poll.

Eastern and Idaho both landed players on Spring AFCA Football Championship Subdivision All-America teams. Eagles senior quarterback Eric Barriere, the Walter Payton Award runner-up, and senior offensive tackle Tristen Taylor were named to the first team while senior wide receiver Talolo Limu-Jones and Idaho junior linebacker Tre Walker were on the second team.

It was Barriere’s fourth first-team honor of the spring season.

Walker earned his fourth All-America honor when he was named to the Hero Sports first team. UI wide receiver Hayden Hatten was named to the Hero Sports Sophomore All-America team.

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