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The invitational track season comes to full flower this weekend. Most bigger schools compete in Ferris's Big Red Invitational this morning while Valley Christian School hosts its annual smaller school Icebreaker Invitational at Central Valley High School. Twenty-five schools will be represented, said Panther coach Linda Lanker, including her school and Freeman. Greater Spokane League track began Thursday in typical frigid fashion and both CV and University boys and girls teams won easily.
With a big lead over DeSales on Thursday, Valley Christian starters watched from the bench as their subs got a chance to play. They didn't score, much to the amusement of the starters, but the Panthers still won by 17 points. Photo by Steve Thompson/The Spokesman-Review
The championship was five days old and her team just hours away from its first regional basketball game, but Mead's unfailingly optimistic coach Annette Wing was still bubbling. "It's so exciting as a first-year coach, it's hard to sum it up," she said. "The players worked hard and deserve the credit." Mead had finished third in league behind Ferris and Central Valley. Only one game and a handful of points, however, separated the trio.
Panther power took them to state. Front row, Brent Decker, Jeremy Decker; Row 2, Matt Troyer, Jonathon Brecto; Row 3, coach Ray Ricks, Tyson Lacy, coach Steve Altmeyer, Keith Bolster; Row 4, Eric Smith, Mike Spuler; Row 5, Derek Sandin, Jared Evans, Chad Meyers. Photo by Steve Thompson/The Spokesman-Review
Having expectations is one thing. Realizing them often is another. There's euphoria at Valley Christian School, which has qualified for its first boys State B basketball tournament. By beating Curlew 65-62 Thursday night, the Panthers met the goals set for them by second-year coach Steve Altmeyer.
Unable to repeat last year's state team wrestling championship, East Valley was nonetheless happy with second place in the new 3A classification at Mat Classic X. "A second-place finish after a state championship might seem a step down," said coach Craig Hanson. "But it was a great finish considering the competition." EV scored 93 points, nearly equal to last year's title total. They placed six wrestlers and like last year had two finalists.
Ferris High School's Ryan Ellis, left, entangles Charlie Ashbaugh of Tahoma during the semifinal round of the state wrestling championships in Tacoma. Photo by Jason Clark/The Spokesman-Review
Rare is the year in the past decade that the Central Valley girls basketball team has not been a title contender. This season was no exception. With two victories this week, the Bears finished the season with a share of their seventh Greater Spokane League championship, their fifth during coach Dale Poffenroth's nine-year tenure. During that time, his teams have also finished second twice. His formula?
A pair of Lakeside wrestlers welcomes the chance to rest and recuperate before the Eagles' bid to become a two-time state champion. While eight Great Northern League athletes per weight compete this weekend at Deer Park to fill the remaining district berths, the top four seeds in each earn byes into the 2A District 7 tournament Feb. 13 and 14 at Medical Lake. That means most of the Lakeside team will rest, including three-time state qualifier Anthony Layton, and last year's state qualifier Adam Christen.
When Valley Christian was outscored 18-0 by Odessa in the fourth quarter of a Bi-County League basketball game two weeks ago, Panther coach Steve Altmeyer called the loss a blessing in disguise. His team, said Altmeyer was not hitting on all cylinders. It was not putting away teams like it should, despite a 12-1 record. Odessa didn't turn up the pressure to get back into the game. If anything, they played softer, said Altmeyer. The Panthers didn't respond.
Lakeside and Riverside girls basketball teams will match different defensive styles when the two Great Northern League unbeatens meet Friday night. At stake is undisputed first place. It also will be the first time since both qualified for state in 1995 that the two teams have met. "We played them four times that year," said Lakeside coach Lisa Schultz. "I think this will be a good game."
Casey Lektorich told administrators at University High that she'd get three 3-point baskets against Lewis and Clark last Friday. She only got two and had to answer for it on Monday. Her excuse? She didn't get to play much in the fourth quarter of U-Hi's 57-52 triumph. Coach Bob Finn apologized for the oversight.
The evidence is overwhelming, based on East Valley's 51-16 mauling of contender Clarkston, that the Knights have bigger worries than Frontier League wrestling. They'll test their dominance today at the Washington Dream Duals in Auburn. Six teams ranked in the State 3A top 10 are in the field, including the No. 1 Knights, second-ranked Moses Lake, and third-ranked Lake Stevens. Also competing are No. 7 Ellensburg, No. 8 Bellingham and No. 10 W.F. West of Chehalis.
Who is the best girls basketball team in the Spokane area? It would be tough to argue a case with followers of Lakeside High. The Eagles already have beaten Greater Spokane League leader Mead and during the Christmas break defeated Cheney, the favorite in the Frontier League.
When Central Valley's John Reese won the 119-pound weight class at last weekend's prestigious Tri-State Tournament, the Bear senior was not surprised. "I knew I could do it," he said. "It was really gratifying to prove I was the wrestler they expected me to be." Reese was one of two CV champions at the prestigious meet. Shane Cunanan also won at 125 pounds for the third-place Bears.
Central Valley travels to University tonight for the first basketball meeting of the year between the Valley rivals. The boys teams play at 6:45 p.m., with the girls game to follow. CV's teams are coming off Tuesday losses to Greater Spokane League favorite Ferris. Both Titan teams are seeking their first wins of the season. "Inexperience," was Bear coach Dale Poffenroth's one-word explanation for his team's 62-63 loss to the Saxons. "They have three third-year starters and two second-year starters," he said. "We have one third-year starter, a second-year starter and the rest are new."
Lakeside High continues to add laurels to an already acclaimed wrestling program. Last year's State A/B champions have won two invitational tournaments this season against the biggest and best schools in Eastern Washington. Last weekend, on the heels of their victory in the Deer Park Invitational, the Eagles won Central Valley's Inland Empire Classic.
East Valley's volleyball team had been to state for two successive years. This year's team may have been its best, yet the season ended a week before the State 3A tournament. With good reason, it turned out.
Matt Wheeler File photo
Leah Brereton, of the U-Hi Titans, fights for control of the ball during the playoff game with Ferris. Photo by Steve Thompson/The Spokesman-Review