up to Class 2A
BY CHRIS COWBROUGH
S-E Sports Editor
Replicating last seasonâ€™s 15-12 record and a Sweet 16 finish in Class 1A will be tough for the Colville High boyâ€™s basketball team. For one thing, the Indians are playing up and are back in the 2A Great Northern League.
The Indians can only dream about being back where they belongâ€”in 1Aâ€¦at least for the next two seasons.
CHS also lost two-thirds of a rugged front line when seniors Alex Pond (6-5) and J.R. Henry (6-6) graduated. That kind of size and athleticism will be tough to replace.
While the Indians canâ€™t replicate that kind of size this winter, they do have the most highly recruited collegiate basketball prospect since the days of Charlie Yankus back in the 70s (anybody remember Yankus playing for a high-flying University of Montana team led by the Richardson boysâ€”M.R. and M.J.?).
Junior 6-9 post Matt Hubbard, returns as the Indiansâ€™ leading scorer and rebounderâ€”and easily the GNLâ€™s most highly recruited player.
An elite player
CHS head coach John Foulkes said that Hubbard, who plays on elite national AAU teams in the off-season, has improved his overall game. There is no question that Hubbard is the best post player in the GNL and likely the leagueâ€™s best player period. How that will translate in the win/loss column at this juncture is anybodyâ€™s guess.
Itâ€™s a given that Hubbard will get plenty of attention and double teams from opposing defenses.
â€śMattâ€™s game has improved,â€ť Foulkes said last week before a practice session. â€śHe has matured quite a bit and physically, has really developed. His all-around game is just better.â€ť
While Hubbard mostly played down low on the block the past two seasons in the Northeast A League, look for Hubbard to move his game outside when given the opportunity this season.
He has also been Colvilleâ€™s best outside shooter the past two seasons.
â€śWe are going to have to be creative in how we get Matt involved,â€ť Foulkes said.
It would help if a Colville High team that hasnâ€™t shot well from the perimeter in several seasons can do a little more of that this winter, with their guards. That would take some pressure off Hubbard.
â€śAt this juncture, Iâ€™d like to say weâ€™re more experienced at guard,â€ť Foulkes said, adding that with the exception of Hubbard, the Indians are woefully short by 2A standards.
AT A GLANCE
Matt Hubbard, 6-9 junior post. Hubbard led the Indians in scoring as a freshman and sophomore. That certainly wonâ€™t change this season. But the competition level will certainly be more rigorous than it was in the NEA. Hubbard has improved his face up game appreciably â€śand can certainly put the ball on the floor,â€ť according to Foulkes. Hubbard has put more time into basketball (high level AAU basketball) than any player in CHS history. It isnâ€™t even close. His game is still evolvingâ€”and so is the interest from college programs. No, he hasnâ€™t committed to a college program yet.
Nevin Thompson, 6-1 senior swingman. Athletic player who can score and will have to. First-year varsity player who is a potential starter. Good leaper, but according to his coach, hasnâ€™t put in a lot of time to develop his skills. â€śNevin took his sophomore year off and is catching up,â€ť Foulkes said.
Austin Hegney, 6-3 senior. Up from the CHS junior varsity, Hegney will provide some bulk and post defense for the Indians.
Tevyn Holling, 6-1 senior guard who played significant minutes with his identical twin brother, Lukyn, last winter. Good shooter and has improved his quickness.
Lukyn Holling, 6-1 senior guard. Unfortunately, this Holling twin wonâ€™t be available until at least January. He broke a leg playing fall basketball. Like his brother, Tevyn, heâ€™s a solid all-around player who loves the game and shoots well.
Jay Shoemaker, 5-10 senior guard who returns to the starting point guard position. A good athlete who will need to improve his scoring for the Indians this season.
Omar Khater, 6-2 player in his third year on the varsity. Will provide experience inside, rebounding and scoring.
Justin Wolfrum, 6-3 junior and the son of CHS assistant coach, Shannon Wolfrum. Versatile player who can play several positions. A â€ślongâ€ť defender who can play guard or post.
Sam Artzis, 5-8 sophomore point guard. Up from the Colville junior varsity. Solid ball-handler and shooter.
Austin Maddox, 5-11 senior. Good team player up from last yearâ€™s junior varsity.
Hayden Dahl, 6-0 senior guard. A â€śconsummate team guy and teammate,â€ť according to Foulkes. â€śHe loves the game and will do whatever we need him to do.â€ť
Zach Shoemaker, 5-11 junior guard who could swing between varsity and junior varsity teams. Like Khater, Maddox, and Hegney, played this fall on the CHS football team. Has a knack for the ball, according to Foulkes.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Foulkes concedes that he doesnâ€™t know much about the GNL â€śand where we might stack up.â€ť
But Foulkes has certainly been around long enough to know that some programs around the GNL like to ratchet up the defensive pressure.
â€śWe have got to take care of the ball and we have to defend,â€ť Foulkes said. â€śWe arenâ€™t blessed with a lot of team speed.
â€śThis league is definitely tougher (than the NEA). We know how tough and competitive it was (three seasons ago). There is some good individual talent in the leagueâ€¦we are just trying to be competitive. We really donâ€™t know how we stack up yet.â€ť