Ferris @ North Central- Basketball (Dec 22,2014)

 

The night started with the JV Boys game where  I got to meet long time NC coach Dave Hall(Frosh coach) and see a lot of old friends with their kids now playing at NC and Ferris.

It was a close game and the first thing I noticed was Brendan Blocker  flying up and down the court, pressuring the Ferris PG-on defense and then dribbling through and past attempted Saxon traps.  Ferris got a large lead from their size and ability to finish after rebounds.  They seem to have a fairly solid squad- guards and bigs – considering the amount of youth this year at the varsity level.  Shane Huttala, a Junior,  had a nice game for the Saxons and looked to be the best player on the court as far as post players were concerned.  Late in the game the Indians came swarming back with a fourth quarter push as a substitution of starters back into the game caused a spark.  Evan O’Connor, Baby Jordan, along with Brendan did most of the damage during the comeback and look to be the players to rise up through he ranks in the coming years for NC.    It fell short as NC couldn’t hit at the FT line gong 3-7 in the final few minutes, losing by 3.

Next up was the Freshmen Boys game which was a promising affair for both squads as I saw 6 players who could make worthy contributions for both programs in the approaching years.  Ferris had Josh Via a tough nosed forward and Jake Robinson– a solid ball handler and point guard.  For NC they were led by guards Damian Carter, RJ Tensley, and Post players RaShawn Lemery, and the 6′-7″ giant Chris Regelado.  Although Ferris played a hard pressure 3/4 court trap for most of the game, they could not slow the more offensively capable guards of NC.  Carter and Tensley seemed to have more poise and experience.  RaShawn Lemery showed that when challenged he can rise above the dominate inside the paint with offensive boards and put backs using sheer athleticism.  It’s always interesting to see which players develop, both physically and skill wise as they move forward through the years.  North Central won fairly easily.

 

I was looking forward to watching Kieana Bigsmoke for the North Central Freshmen girls but she was out with an ankle injury.  There will be a next time!

 

The Varsity Girls game was next up and I was anticipating this game as I couldn’t wait to watch some of the better guards in the league- Bria Bowton, Abbey Muelheim, Megan Meulheim, and freshmen sensation Kayla Sharp of Ferris.  Not to mention one of my favorite players, Megan Dean- North Central’s “do everything”.

This was a very close game throughout, but the overall experience of the Ferris girls played a huge part in their victory.  Kayla Sharp as a Freshmen, rose to the top leading her team in the final quarter with determination and an effect on her team unexpected to me as they do have more “veteran” guard play.  She was the main cog in the half court offense in the final minutes, initiating sets and then finishing possessions with clutch free throws.  It was impressive to see that.  Megan Dean for North Central did not disappoint, she rebounded and pushed the ball up court always attacking the defense.  Constantly got her hands on passes and forced jump balls.  When I go watch this team, I try to see anything other than Dean (Casey Kiourkas and Morgan Smith definetley show some potential), but she wins me over every time as she seems to get better and more forceful each game I see her play.  It just does not matter who she is going up against she will give a fight to the end with no breaks in the midst of battle.  Needless to say Ferris finished the game with a barrage of trapping that the less disciplined NC girls could not handle and as the turnovers mounted,  the final outcome was decided.

 

The Varsity Boys game finally arrived and although it brought together two of the leagues less prominent records it did not disappoint in talent.  Ferris starts two Freshmen, Shamrock Campbell and Mike Erving– who leads the team in scoring through the first handful of games.  Both of these kids are remarkable as Campbell has an ability to drive the ball and be unfazed by older players at the varsity level.  Erving was an unforeseen weapon down low showing no lack of confidence to call for the ball on the block or the ability to attack the hoop and score, score, score!  I believe he finished with 17 points again leading his team.  On the North Central line is the always spectacular Riley Smith who may have the best handle in the league slashing through defenders en route to a dish or swish.   He had more than enough highlight worthy plays in this game whether it be a behind the back dribble leading to a fast break layup or a dribble drive break down of his defender that gets finished off by his slashing sidekick Noah Higley.  Speaking of Higley, he and Murphy Butte of Ferris are surely two of the more under rated players in the GSL today.  Higley is athletic and a late bloomer for NC.  If only he had another year to play to gain some confidence in his jump shot because with Smith they could become an even more dominant duo with their unequaled chemistry on the floor.  Murphy Butte was kind of a no name last year on the Ferris squad that was loaded with seniors.  This year he shows a disciplined game that brings a sweet jumper and a sense that he will shoot it everytime unless you close out properly.  Something I noticed in his game that I absolutely love, was that when he catches a pass, he is ALWAYS catching with the intent to shoot.  Not enough players do this as it forces the action and keeps a defender “on guard” at all times.  He could be a great outside scorer and it has been showing up by his lines so far this season as he has not been under 11 points yet.  He is a player to watch for sure as the next level could be calling his name next season.  Ferris pulled off the “W” in very competitive game.

More to come… Who’s next?

Dec 16 Games- Mead @ G Prep

DEC 16, 2014

BOYS

MEAD @ G PREP

Gonzaga Prep held on to win this game, somehow.

The Panthers seemed to dominate the game especially defensively. I did not see the final stat sheet but I witnessed Mead force 15+ turnovers but just could not capitalize on them and actually turned it back over themselves numerous times.  Regardless of the outcome, Mead’s defensive pressure is remarkable and will lead to a lot of wins if they can maximize the offensive opportunities from the turnovers that they force.  Max Hess is still the most noticeable defender who “erks and jerks” in a fiery frenzy of arms and legs all over the court, deflecting and stealing passes. He is followed closely by Josh Richter who showed an enormous amount of energy under Coach Williams’s urging from the sideline.   No surprise on offense here but Brandon Pettersen can light it up. He only made one 3, but seems as if he can score at will, after of course laying the wood on the cutters from the high post. Will McPhee seems to be the coal thrower again this year keeping this engine running from the point. He can drop bombs or dimes and finished with team high of 18 points.

G-Prep benefitted from a very good shooting night from Junior Logan Adams who sank six, count em’ 6! Three pointers! This kid has a quick release and surprised me as a “go to” player with a ton of “catch me if you can” attitude who could possibly lead the Bullpups to a league title. GPBP’s big man Braden Morse is a quiet one who plays hard, shows good footwork, and attacks the hoop when he has the ball in his hands. This kid is also a junior and will definitely be a factor in the run Prep will undoubtedly make this season. The freshmen sixth man, Devin Culp also exhibited a strong-willed game, handling pressure, snatching boards, and initiating offense as a 9th grader! Good luck league….

GIRLS

MEAD @ G PREP

A sluggish start for the home team was induced by Coreen Labish’s commendable defense on Oti Gildon in the first quarter forcing three traveling violations and numerous missed shots with her positioning. She also had 3 blocks and played the MVP very well straight up. Although Labish and Sue Winger could not really get off one player did impress amidst the control of the defending champions spell. Amanda Chan who was filling in at the point guard for Peyton Douglas, played admirably against the likes of Laura Stockton and the feisty Tayler Drynam.  Amanda definitely did not back down from the challenge and showed a toughness and confidence that bodes well for the future of the Lady Panthers backcourt as she is only a sophomore!

On the G-Prep girls side of things, nothing surprised. They are as talented and tough as last year and once they found their stride there was no denying the overwhelming presence of talent they possess. Laura Stockton continues her rise as one of the best players in the inland northwest. She is simply amazing. Oti Gildon, after a slow start pretty much dominated the paint as usual, finishing with more post ups and layins than I can count.  She is so smooth underneath, its hard to believe she is still a high school ball player.  Tayler Drynam is a fire plug on the defensive end getting into everyone and forcing the action, its impressive. She is a little dart flying around deflecting passes and starting fast breaks, very fun to watch.  Prep will only have 2 or 3 challenges this season in league, so they are bound for another GSL title and deep State tourney run.

Spokane’s School Divide

http://www.nwprepsnow.com/stories/2014/dec/13/balanced-central-valley-boys-zip-past-shadle-park/

Some schools have it… some schools don’t.  Well actually, MOST schools don’t.  I’m talking about the “youth farm system”.  There are however suggestions as to how it happens.  If you read the piece by NWPREPSNOW,  the Central Valley basketball- boys and girls, prove year in and year out that beginning at a young age and building kids’ skills early on lead to great teams that are competitive all over the state.  The fact that the Shadle Park boys hoop team, with one of the most talented basketball teams in Spokane with its young exuberant athleticism, and size, could hardly compete with the “experience” of a groomed, well taught group of kids from CV that have been molded into a tight knight unit through the most influential and developmental years of pre adulthood athletics, is really something to talk about!
But a lot of things outside of the box come into play here.  The successful teams like this possess:

1.  The most determined parents who will sacrifice exorbitant amounts of time, energy, and money to make sure their children are provided the best instruction and most exposure as possible.
2.  A set of select coaches that are passionate and exclusive to any time restraints that allow them to take ownership over programs and spend the hours it takes to develop prominent teams.
3.  Most families being of accomplished adults with vast amounts of sport experience, professional esteem, and influence in their respective careers or communities which leads to a larger pool of advocates.

Now compare this with some schools in Spokane on the other side of the spectrum.  Schools like Shadle and the general mid city areas for instance.  The demographics speak for themselves as anyone who has been in the Spokane area for the last decade can verify.  The proof of finances or lack of finances in the heart of the city demonstrates a direct contrast to the CV success.  Parents in these areas don’t necessarily have less athletic children or uncaring coaches.  They do in more instances however, have less flexibility in time management due to more clock-punching blue-collar jobs, less “out and about” careers that create connections, and fewer private resources to tap into as it takes time, money, and energy to produce anything, let alone a thriving youth sports program dedicated to truly helping kids, not to make money.
Some other major factors that actually help the “better” schools and contribute to the divide are….

1.  Club teams recruit the best players-FACT- and often times from lesser teams.  The parents with “less” believe this is best for their child.  As it may work out for that individual, I have seen more often than not that as soon as that recruited player stops developing or becomes expendable for whatever reason deemed by the club directors or coaches, they are left behind as the parents don’t have the clout to maintain the usage of the individual player involved.
2.  Athletes that are “left behind” at a younger than acceptable age now have to either continue struggling at the club level in games losing confidence rather than working on skills and growing into a role on a successful team.  Or they must join a team with the new-found resentment and reluctance of coaches as they are now viewed as a flight risk or unreliable from continually jumping to the “best opportunity”.  This contributes to the lack of cohesiveness and success of both the club teams AND the district boundary school teams.
3.  Open districts that allows kids to go to schools outside their respective school boundaries of Spokane Public Schools.
4.  Or plain and simple money constraints that hinder any potential progress that would otherwise be possible if dollars were available to spend on quality, early, athletic development.

This is not an excuse as to why Shadle lost the game to CV but to open the discussion about how we create more competitive balance within the OUR league in Spokane and produce better overall teams and players to compete with the more publicized schools throughout the state and Pacific Northwest.

Hoop Impressions

The first week of the basketball season has brought some of what we expected and enlightened us to some new players to be on the lookout for across the area.

 

BOYS

Riley Smith- North Central, is taking over the leadership role and showing the league how potent of a scorer and play maker he is going to be this season.

Isaac Reason- Lewis and Clark, opened eyes in the game versus Corvallis showing a very athletic skill set.  He looked like the best player on the floor.

Robert Rucker- Rogers, the top returning scorer from last year solidified his push for the scoring title in 14/15.

Will McPhee- Mead, putting the ball in basket has come easy so far for the senior point guard.

Nate Guske- Deer Park, this scoring machine is almost impossible to slow down and is going to have a very high scoring season.

Cameron Gay- Lakeside, the junior has started the season strong ripping apart two of Spokane’s valley schools.

Spencer Matt, University, the first year varsity player came on strong in his first game against Rogers, scoring 18 and with the ball in his hands in the final seconds trying to win it shows his confidence.

 

GIRLS

Hailey Higashi- St George’s, leading the Lady Dragons in scoring again as a sophomore with her aggressive and relentless offensive pressure.

Megan Dean- North Central, will continue to put up good numbers now that she’s developed more of an outside game and three point shot.

Maddie Johnson- Reardan, opened the season with 29 points in a win over Cheney.

Oti Gildon- G Prep, once again dominating everybody she encounters.

Laura Stockton- G Prep, leading the defending state champs to 3 wins already against stiff competition.

Shyla Carr- Shadle, pulling a very young squad along with her offensive output, to be continued throughout the season.