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College basketball 2021-22: It’s full speed ahead as CCS and NIC men seek NWAC supremacy

By Justin Reed The Spokesman-Review

In a COVID-altered season, the Northwest Athletic Conference’s schedule was adjusted many times over as teams played between six and 17 games with two teams having their seasons canceled – Olympic and Shoreline.

The Community Colleges of Spokane played 17 games while North Idaho College was on the opposite end of that spectrum, playing six.

Now, with a full schedule ahead for both programs, the Sasquatch are hoping for a more normal schedule and the Cardinals will be thankful for a full, non-condensed season.

But, the opportunity to have a preseason not impacted by COVID has paid dividends for CCS basketball.

“We’re feeling great that we have a normal process, you could call it, a normal season coming up, where we had preseason workouts, conditioning, normal practices,” ninth-year coach Jeremy Groth said. “And so, we’re thankful we have an opportunity to compete normally this year and kind of a normal schedule.”

Yet, the impact of COVID is still present this season as college athletes were granted another year of eligibility.

“We have four guys that are basically called like super sophomores,” Groth said. “Technically, this would be their third year playing, so we have three guys who have played big minutes for us these last two years, starters basically.”

It starts with Kobe Reese, their big man who played at Shadle Park. Then, two players from Alaska, wings Jaron Williams and Kaeleb Johnson. Those three were starters two seasons ago when CCS earned the No. 1 seed out of the East Division.

But the division will be tough sledding again for the Sasquatch as they will go against North Idaho, who Groth said always battles them hard.

“It’s going to be a good fight, night in and night out,” Groth said. “Gotta bring it, gotta be ready. And hopefully our preseason schedule allows us to (get rolling) as we go on the road quite a bit, playing good teams.”

The Sasquatch have lofty goals for this new season, but they will focus on themselves first and foremost and the rest will take care of itself.

“We are just taking care of business every day trying to be trying to get better,” Groth said. “It’s just one day at a time, give it our best effort every day. And that’s that’s the first thing we kind of focus on or worry about. And then the goal for this winter is to compete at a high level. Just enjoy the journey, enjoy being together, enjoy competing and we’ll see where that takes us.”

Spokane’s first games will be at the Red Devil Classic, which begins Nov. 26 at Lower Columbia College.

Its first conference game is Jan. 5 at Blue Mountain.

North Idaho has its first game at Green River on Dec. 9 and the Cardinals will host Columbia Basin for their first conference game Jan. 5.

The two play each other twice, first at Spokane on Jan. 8, then North Idaho welcomes Spokane on Feb. 23.

2021-22 schedules for the North Idaho College men and women were not made available at press time.

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