Jeremiah Johnson (no. 3) draws a crowd under the bucket in a wild one against Cusick last Friday night at home.
That annual rite of early February, the Panorama League boyâ€™s and girls basketball tournaments, will make their runs this week.
The tournament will culminate on Saturday at Kettle Falls with district seeding and championship games.
In Panorama Tournament opening round games on Tuesday (boys), Northport (16-3, 11-2) hosted Cusick (8-10, 7-5) and Selkirk (8-11, 8-5) was at regular season champion Wellpinit (14-5, 12-0). Both games were scheduled for 6 p.m. starts.
In girls opening round games on Wednesday, regular season champion and third-ranked Columbia High (Hunters) 13-0, 19-1) will host Wellpinit (6-7, 7-12) and Selkirk (9-4, 15-5) will play host to Cusick (8-4, 12-6). Both games are scheduled for 6 p.m. starts.
The winners will play on Saturday at Kettle Falls Middle School for the District 7 1B (Panorama League) championship and top seed to the District Tournament against the Bi-County 1B that starts next Tuesday (boys) and Wednesday (girls) at the home of the higher seeded teams.
The championship is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The opening round loserâ€™s will play at 1 p.m.
In the final week of Panorama League play last week, Wellpinitâ€™s boys and Columbiaâ€™s girls continued to roll along unscathed, although the Redskins got all they could handle from a rapidly improving Northport team on Saturday night on the Spokane Indian Reservation.
James Best hit four free throws in the gameâ€™s final minute as the Redskins were able to hold off Northportâ€™s upset bid, 58-55.
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Frederick Verhaeghe, who scored 13 points for NHS, missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.
David Higgins led Northport with 14 points. Josh Konkler added 12 points for the Mustangs.
Greg Wynecoop led decidedly taller Wellpinit with 19 points. William Stensgar added 12 more for WHS.
Northport got behind early, trailing 17-11 before making a run.
On Friday at home, Verhaeghe scored 21 points, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out six assists to lead Northport to a 56-53 win over Cusick, who earlier in the week lost to Wellpinit, 80-56.
Derrick Bluff led Cusick with 19 points.
Northport outscored Cusick 16-11 in the fourth quarter to pull out a come-from-behind win.
NHS head coach Erik Stark is pleased with the improvement his scrappy, undersized team has made during the Panorama League season.
â€śThe kids are executing the game plans and a bunch of guys have really stepped up,â€ť Stark said on Monday. â€śWeâ€™re playing well and are playing with confidence.â€ť
In the loss to Wellpinit, the Redskins hit a hot 80 percent from the field in the first half (16 of 20 from the field). Still, Northport (18 of 54 from the field for the game), hung around and made things interesting in the end.
Northport, pressing from one end to the other, forced 21 Wellpinit turnovers.
The Mustangs were 18 of 30 at the free throw line and missed three front ends of one and oneâ€™s in the late going.
â€śThat really hurt us,â€ť Stark said. â€śWe have to do a better job at the line.â€ť
Stark knows that beating Cusick three straight times will be a tall order.
â€śThe game with Cusick is huge,â€ť he admitted. â€śWe have beaten them twice, but they have both been close. A win would be very important for seeding (to the District 7 1B Tournament).â€ť
In Panorama boyâ€™s games last Saturday night, Selkirk downed Republic 61-42 behind Avery Millerâ€™s 18 points.
Prestin Hooper dumped in 15 points for Republic (3-16, 1-5).
Cusick blasted Curlew 71-35 behind Ryan Sampleâ€™s 16 points and six steals.
Jazz Brisbaine led Curlew (3-15, 1-10) with 18 points.
On Friday night, Wellpinit ran past Selkirk, 77-47. Four WHS players scored in twin figures, led by Wynecoopâ€™s 18 points.
Avery Miller led Selkirk with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
In a battle of Ferry County teams, Curlew got past Inchelium 59-42.
Brisbane led Curlew with 16 points.
Thomas Cohen scored a game-high 17 points for Inchelium (0-15, 0-9).
On the girlâ€™s side, Columbia blasted Inchelium 70-21 last Saturday night on the road behind Lindsay Loe and Elizabeth Larrewâ€™s combined 43 points.
The Hornets (7-10, 3-9) finished fifth in the Panorama League and will play the Bi-County 1B Leagueâ€™s fourth seed (on the road) for a spot in the district tournament next week.
Wellpinit (7-12, 6-7) finished fourth in the league with a 49-15 win over Northport (1-17, 1-11) on Saturday at home.
Cusick got 13 points and nine rebounds from Andrea Heinen in a 58-19 win at home over Curlew (4-14, 2-10).
Curlew managed only three second half points.
Alyssa Stout scored on a drive and Brianna Brown hit a pair of free throws late to lift Republic (13-6, 5-1) to a 34-31 win over Selkirk on Saturday.
Stout dumped in 17 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.
On Friday night, Elizabeth Larrew scored 26 points to lead Columbia past Republic 66-28 on the road.
Cusick got four players in double figures in a 65-16 win at Northport.
Katie Couch scored 15 points to lead Selkirk to a 45-37 win in Ione over Wellpinit.