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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Greatest Spokane League: From Shadle Park to Central Valley, GSL girls have earned 18 basketball championships in 33 years

By Dave Trimmer For The Spokesman-Review

When examining the amazing accomplishments of Greater Spokane League girls basketball over three-plus decades, it’s hard to pick a place to start.

Do you begin with Shadle Park’s back-to-back state titles in 1988 and ’89 that put the GSL on the map, especially since Lewis and Clark was second the first year and third the second?

Or work back from Central Valley’s 2020 championship, the last one contested because of the coronavirus, or any other of the Bears’ state-best six Class 4A championships?

Or jump in with LC’s three-straight state titles and four in six seasons, one of which was a win over GSL rival University?

Or examine Mead’s stranglehold on the headlines in the ’90s when the Panthers went 24-4 in seven-straight state appearances with three titles?

Or just crunch the numbers? We’ve got numbers.

Every pre-expansion GSL team has at least one trophy from the state tournament except Rogers; Central Valley has more than any other large school in the state with 18.

In the 33 years starting with Shadle Park’s first title, the Greater Spokane League has brought 18 state championship trophies back over the mountains and 21 trophies representing second-, third- and fourth-place finishes. We should probably add the three fifth-place finishes, which means the local team only lost once at state but had the misfortune of losing its opening game.

During those 33 years (at the highest classification), 65 teams made it to state and only 13 times did a GSL fail to place – and on more than one occasion was eliminated by a league rival.

Since the GSL was divided into 4A and 3A in 2003, 3A teams have won 11 trophies and failed to place just three times.

That’s a lot of hardware.

In the next week we look back at some of that history. It starts today with the GSL’s origin building to Shadle Park’s two titles at the expense of Lewis & Clark.

We will explore Mead’s amazing run from point guard Colleen Flannigan to point guard Stacy Clinesmith.

There’s LC’s dominant run plus Gonzaga Prep’s back-to-back crowns.

We examine the Central Valley dynasty – the undefeated 1993 team that broke through to the last title featuring a former championship player as the coach.

A lot of talent that played in our city’s footprint hauled home all those goodies. Among that talent, Lewis and Clark graduate Briann January helped the Connecticut Sun to the WNBA regular-season championship this year and Central Valley twins Lexi and Lacy Hull are key members of Stanford’s reigning NCAA champions. We attempt to figure out how the GSL produced so much talent.

And we wrap it up with the Hulls’ memories of an NCAA title and look ahead to their quest for a repeat.

We hope you enjoy the journey.

Note: Background information and many of the statistics contained in this article were compiled by Bill Pierce.