Darian Herring leads No. 6 Deer Park girls, undefeated in league play, into district tournament
Feb. 7, 2023 Updated Tue., Feb. 7, 2023 at 9:57 p.m.
There’s something exciting going on within the Deer Park girls basketball program.
It hasn’t exactly been an overnight success story – more like a multiyear project. But the Stags are poised make some noise, starting with the District 7 1A tournament this week and, if things go well, at the state tournament.
If they get to state, it’ll be the third time in program history to get past district play, joining the 1989 team and coach KC Ahrens’ regional squad in 2020.
Deer Park is ranked No. 6 in 1A by the state media at 18-2 overall and it finished the regular season 12-0 in league and champs for the first time in school history.
“There’s not a lot of history here,” Ahrens said. “So, it’s pretty neat. The girls realize they’ve been a part of that. They got a number up on the wall for the league championship, so that’s pretty cool.”
Their only losses came against Timberlake, ranked No. 2 in Idaho 3A, and a 64-38 loss to Okanogan, ranked No. 2 in 2B, in the Eagle Holiday Classic at West Valley on Dec, 27.
Since that loss, the Stags have run off 12 wins in a row, including a pair against rival Freeman, which is ranked two spots behind the Stags in the media poll.
Leading scorer Darian Herring said a perfect record in league was a goal of the team.
“100%,” Herring said. “We all set it as a goal and we wanted to go beyond that, too.”
“It’s really special because when I was a freshman, we got the chance to go to state, which is really cool,” Allie Garry said. “And I knew I wanted to do that again for my senior year.”
Deer Park and Freeman both received first-round byes at districts and will play in semifinals on opposite sides of the bracket on Thursday.
Herring expects to see the Scotties again.
“We’ve beat them twice already,” she said. “And they’re just going to be after us. We’ve just got to bring a lot more energy to beat them again.”
“Freeman has always been our biggest competition,” Garry said. “And every year we’ve had to struggle with them. So, we want to bring it to them again.”
Ahrens is in his fifth year at Deer Park and his 12th season overall. He has won the Northeast A Coach of the Year three times in four seasons with the Deer Park girls.
Ahrens leans on his “big three,” led by Lewis-Clark State commit Herring, who was the league MVP her sophomore season and first-team all-league last year.
“Darian was MVP as a sophomore, but we had a better team around her,” Ahrens said. “Last year, she was first team, but we didn’t have the people who could support her.
“This year, we can spread around a little bit, which is nice. We have three girls who can really score.”
The other two in that equation are Garry and sophomore shooting guard Brooklyn Coe.
Ahrens said Coe is averaging around 15 points per game and Garry contributes 13 points – and a lot of energy.
“I think it’s something you can control every day, because some things you can’t control,” Garry said. “My energy, I think, is the thing I bring most to the team.”
“I think we’ve had at least five girls who’ve scored in double digits at some point,” Ahrens said. “So, we’ve got some skill and some good guard play, which is huge.”
“Everyone’s really close with each other,” Coe said. “And we have a good friendship and bond.”
“It’s been really fun,” Herring said. “And it’s been great working with all the girls. We’ve had a lot of success in what Coach Ahrens has been teaching us.
“I usually just attack and then they’re open and they cut and they’re great at making their own plays, too.”
“When (Herring) drives, everyone else is open,” Coe said. “She can find open players for easy shots.”
“Darian is my best friend,” Garry said. “I feel like playing basketball with her for all these years has brought us so close together. It’s just like a telepathic thing.”
Ahrens makes lofty comparisons for Herring.
“She’s kind of like Scotty (Pippin) or LeBron (James). When she gets the ball in her hands, we want her to go,” he said. “She’s really good with the basketball and she’s probably the fastest kid in the league, even at 6 feet tall, which is pretty nice to have. She can do everything.
“She leads us in scoring, rebounding, steals, assists and blocks.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.