Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Sports >  High school sports

Tennessee Rainwater, Davenport boys basketball hope historic season extends to State B at Arena

Feb. 16, 2023 Updated Thu., Feb. 16, 2023 at 8:22 p.m.

By Keenan Gray For The Spokesman-Review

Davenport senior Tennessee Rainwater is more than just his unique name. At 6-foot-6, he possesses incredible athletic skills and has been named the Northeast 2B boys basketball player of the year.

But for Rainwater, there’s more to be accomplished than being one of the best players in the state. He and his Gorillas teammates are going after something greater this postseason.

On Friday, Davenport (22-2) – the District 7 2B champion and ranked No. 1 in 2B by the state media poll – will have an opportunity to reach the state tournament for the first time in 13 years when it faces Tonasket in a District 6/7 crossover game at West Valley High School.

“It’s been up and down,” Davenport head coach Matt Henry said. “We haven’t been able to get to state in a while since I’ve been here. Had some success four or five years ago, and these guys started to come through and we’ve started to grow a little bit more successful.”

The Gorillas’ success this season has been driven by the hard work of Rainwater. Growing up in West Seattle, he first learned the sport from his father, a former professional basketball player in Germany, and what it meant to get into the gym and craft his game.

“As long as I could remember, maybe 5 years old,” Rainwater said. “My dad always kept me encouraged and would always bring me to the gym, which grew a love for basketball just going to the gym and getting better.”

As a youth, Rainwater played at various levels from YMCA to AAU. Before his freshman year of high school, his family made the decision to move to Davenport.

“We’ve always had land over here and we’d go hunting,” Rainwater said. “My grandparents had lived out in Davenport and the area where we were living was getting kind of rough, so my dad decided to make the move going into high school.”

It was time to find a new team for Rainwater. A group of guys his age, who had been playing together in Davenport for years, welcomed him in with open arms. It started a bond that grew as the days went on.

“They played a lot of basketball growing up,” Henry said. “They played a lot in their elementary time and all the way up through junior high together. When (Tennessee) moved in, there was already a core of guys that loved playing together, so that really helped just sort of move him into it.”

It took some time to jell. Rainwater and his new group had to learn from those who had gone through the program before them what it meant to work as a team.

“It wasn’t necessarily a state-caliber group yet, but we had a lot of great older guys who mentored, and we were able to learn from,” Rainwater said. “I feel like that group of guys helped grow our experience and helped us be the team we are today.”

Rainwater’s sophomore and junior years were stepping stones for the group as they learned the speed of the game at the varsity level. During the pandemic season, the Gorillas finished 8-5, the school’s first winning record since the 2017-18 season.

The following year, Davenport reached 17 wins and fell one game short of qualifying for the state tournament.

The team has been dominant this season, beating opponents by an average of 23 points. The Gorillas have lost twice – a four-point decision in league to Liberty, a game Rainwater missed due to injury, and a two-point loss to Okanogan on an atypical shooting night.

“That’s what makes basketball fun to watch is when you see these guys interact with each other and build that trust,” Henry said. “You start to see those passes and make the extra pass, that’s really what make coaching fun. Sometimes you get to sit back and enjoy the show.”

The show has been great this season in Davenport. While Rainwater has put up numbers that have attracted Division I schools, the team as a whole has worked together to produce high-caliber basketball.

“I think the thing about these guys that I’ve noticed the last four years is their enjoyment of each other,” Henry said. “That really has helped them mesh and trust each other on the court.”

“We’re not only teammates, but we’re all friends,” Rainwater said. “Everyone on the team gets along really well. We hang out outside of basketball, outside of practice and that brotherhood we’ve kind of grown off the court has definitely helped us on the court. I feel like that’s what makes us special.”

Rainwater and the Gorillas are anxious to show what they have on the big stage of the Spokane Arena but will not look past Tonasket (13-9) on Friday.

“We just have to execute and do all the little things,” Rainwater said.

“Obviously, different teams are going to throw different things at us such as different offenses and different looks. We just have to be ready for different circumstances, play our game and stick to what we’ve been doing all season and do it well.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

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.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.