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

Inland Northwest’s Best: Buzzer beaters, actors and athletic directors

Jalen Suggs celebrates with teammates after making a winning 3-pointer in overtime to defeat UCLA 93-90 on April 3, 2021, during the NCAA Final Four.  (Tribune News Service)
By Howie Stalwick For The Spokesman-Review

Memorable plays

Gonzaga basketball fans will never forget the 40-foot buzzer-beater Jalen Suggs banked in to beat UCLA 93-90 in overtime at the 2020-21 NCAA Final Four.

Honorable mention: Mercer Island basketball supporters still insist that Greg Schmidt’s winning shot came after time expired, but the score remains unchanged in the 1980-81 state tournament title game record book: Shadle Park 66, Mercer Island 65.

Also: Mike Humphreys stole home in the bottom of the eighth inning to score the deciding run in the Spokane Indians’ 2-1 win over Southern Oregon in the final game of the 1988 Northwest League playoffs. Fans at Avista Stadium cheered wildly.

Athletes to actors

Craig T. Nelson, Lewis and Clark HS football, basketball and baseball player. Nelson’s long list of screen credits includes the horror film “Poltergeist” and the TV comedy “Coach.”

Honorable mention: Bill Fagerbakke, Idaho football player. Fagerbakke played Nelson’s dimwitted college football assistant coach, Dauber Dybinski, on “Coach.”

Also: Connie Madigan, Spokane Comets pro hockey player. We’re stretching things a bit here, but it’s hard to ignore Madigan’s cameo appearance as Ross “Mad Dog” Madison in the championship game of the classic minor league hockey comedy movie “Slap Shot.” Madigan didn’t have to do much acting, since he was cast as a fight-happy goon, the same role he often played in his long minor league career.

Athletic directors

Mike Roth, Gonzaga University. Facilities, salaries, academics, fund-raising, victories … nearly everything about Gonzaga athletics improved substantially during Roth’s reign from 1998 to 2021. Former AD and men’s basketball coach Dan Fitzgerald did some vital groundwork. Roth tried to avoid the limelight, but he must have been doing something right, since the street bordering the south side of the McCarthey Athletic Center basketball arena is named for him. Personally, I would be thrilled if someone named a trash can after me ….

Honorable mention: Bill Moos, Washington State. Bumbling in the Pac-12 office has factored into WSU athletics drowning in even more red ink than usual, and Moos knowingly created some of that red ink when he remodeled the football stadium and built WSU’s first Football Operations Building. That said, the facility improvements were desperately needed to keep up with rivals. Moos’ other big-time move to revive WSU football was the hiring of controversial coach Mike Leach, who steered the Cougars to six bowl games during his eight years in Pullman.

Also: Sam Jankovich, WSU. Jankovich added 10,000-plus seats to Martin Stadium to bring most home football games back to Pullman from Spokane’s Albi Stadium. Jankovich also vitalized the football program by hiring coach Dennis Erickson in 1987. One year later, after WSU went 9-3 and beat Houston in the Aloha Bowl, Jankovich convinced Erickson to follow him to Miami, and Erickson rewarded Jankovich with a co-national championship (shared with Washington) in 1989.

Best nicknames

Jack “The Throwin’ Samoan” Thompson, Washington State quarterback.

Honorable mention: Keith “Moose of the Palouse” Lincoln, WSU running back.

Also: Clarence “Choo-Choo” Coleman, Spokane Indians catcher.