Colville High boys split in Yakima
A Colville High boy’s basketball team that has played inconsistently through a mostly rigorous non-league December schedule heads into the Northeast A League rat-race this week looking for some continued strong play on the defensive end and a better handle on some elusive offensive consistency.
The Indians (5-5) split a pair of games at last week’s annual SunDome Shootout, losing to a Granger team that came in ranked either second or third (depending on your poll preference), 51-35 and polishing off Connell’s football team in short pants, 40-30 last Friday.
Colville traveled to Newport to face the NEA pre-season favorite Grizzlies (6-3) on Tuesday.
The Indians will be home Friday and Saturday. CHS will host Riverside (4-6) on Friday night and Lakeside (5-5) on Saturday. Game time both nights is 7:30 p.m.
Next Tuesday, Colville will travel to Freeman (5-5). Game time is 7:30 p.m.
“We’ve got our hands full this week,” conceded CHS head coach, John Foulkes. “It looks like everybody (in the league) is showing some promise.”
How much promise will start to shake out this week. One thing is certain, a majority of the league match-ups promise to be closely contested affairs.
The NEA looks to be wide-open, with balance pretty much the byword. While Newport likely gets at least a grudging nod as the league favorite, that isn’t necessarily etched in stone.
The Grizzlies, whose record is a little deceiving because several key players were suspended for several non-league games in December for violations of school and team rules (they were back for Colville), are led by the league’s best player, 6-6 swingman Jake Wiley. The smooth Wiley, who recently signed a letter of intent to play basketball at the University of Montana, is coming off a 32-point performance in a 58-53 win over Springdale last Friday night.
“I think that Newport has the most talent in the league,” Foulkes said, adding that “their guards have been ineligible and will be back against us.”
With Wiley and the rugged 6-4 Spencer Douglas inside, Newport has as much size as anyone in the league, save for likeliest the tallest front line in Class 1A—Colville.
“Douglas is a plow-horse who always seems to have big games against us…and Wiley is long and shoots it well inside or outside. He’s relentless and their guards are capable scorers.”
Colville, as inexperienced in the backcourt as anybody in the league this season, pretty much hung its hat on solid defensive play last season. That looks like the MO this winter as well.
“I feel like we can match up pretty well with Newport,” Foulkes said. “We have enough size and depth with our size to match up with them. But we have to take better care of the ball than we have been. That will be big for us during the league season.”
Opponents with quickness in the backcourt and enough depth at guard have pressed Colville early and often this season to date, and done it very effectively. In the half-court, the Indians have seen a lot of packed in zones that pretty much dare the Indians to shoot outside.
Likeside has a new coach and is missing some key components off a team that was tops in the NEA last winter. Gone is rugged post Ryan Gunderson. But the Eagles still have some talented athletes who will make LHS competitive in the NEA.
“Lakeside likes to use that zone trap scheme against you,” Foulkes said. “They are lanky and athletic…good ball skills and fundamentally skilled players. They aren’t all that different than they were last year, although I don’t think they’re as tough inside. But Lakeside is still a handful.”
Riverside is another well-coached outfit that relies heavily on senior sharp-shooter Jordan Wood.
“Wood is the best shooter in the league,” Foulkes said. “And they have a freshman point guard (Jeremy Axtell) who is really good. There is some size inside (6-5 Josh Davis). They run a lot of sets at you and work to free Wood up.”
Then there’s defensive-oriented Freeman.
“You can expect a lot of grinders with them,” Foulkes said. “They are a very good defensive team.”
Colville simply couldn’t match up with much quicker Granger. The lower Yakima valley club (8-1) harassed Colville into a season-high 31 turnovers.
“We knew they would be a handful for us,” Foulkes said. “They are very balanced and they have great quickness…we didn’t handle their pressure very well.”
The veteran 1A State team was led by Andrew Reddout and Esau Cervantes with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
The then unbeaten Spartans pulled away with a 20-point third quarter.
“Granger is a very solid program,” Foulkes said of a team that is consistently one of the top clubs in Class 1A year in and year out. “They know how to win.”
Turnovers the difference-maker
Colville fell behind by 19 points in the third quarter before making a fourth quarter run and cutting the Granger lead to 11 points.
Colville, who forced 19 Granger turnovers, held the Spartans to their lowest point total of the season to date.
CHS shot 35 percent from the field (15 of 42) and Granger hit 36 percent (21 of 59). Colville was 5 of 10 from the free throw line and Granger was seven of 14.
“The difference was the turnovers,” Foulkes said of a season-long problem. “Our guards struggled, but we had turnovers everywhere.
“We just have to get better (at taking care of the basketball).”
Colville, with its decided height advantage, out-boarded Granger, 42-32.
Sophomore 6-9 post Matt Hubbard led Colville with 11 points and seven rebounds. J.R. Henry added 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
Senior Alex Pond, bothered by a sore shoulder, was held to only two points. But the 6-5 Pond pulled down 10 rebounds and dished out five assists.
Pond aggravated an ailing shoulder injury sustained during the football season against Medical Lake. It’s been an on again, off again issue since.
High-flying Granger was unceremoniously dumped from the ranks of the unbeaten one night later when White Swan and point guard Lawrence Fiander lit up the Spartans, 65-51.
Fiander (13 of 18 from the field) led the Class 2B Cougars (7-1) with 33 points.
White Swan erased a 29-21 halftime deficit.
Granger was led by 5-5 guard Brandon Castro’s 23 points.
In a rugged win over Connell, Pond’s shoulder felt better and the senior scored 12 points and pulled down nine rebounds.
Hubbard led Colville with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
“It was an ugly game, but a win,” Foulkes said of the Colville victory, which broke a three-game losing streak.
Foulkes said he couldn’t remember too many games when a team of his shot it so poorly and still won. The Indians made only 28 percent of their field goal attempts (13 of 47). But Connell was worse (11 of 44).
Connell, with considerably less defensive pressure than what the Indians saw against Granger, still forced Colville into 15 turnovers.
“Against a team like that, 15 is too many,” Foulkes said. “They shouldn’t turn you over much at all.”
Connell played this one rough, a tactic you might expect from a bunch of football players in short pants. The Eagles won their second Class 1A football championship in three years when they defeated Cascade Christian 28-7 last month in the Tacoma Dome. That game marked the third straight time those two teams have met for the State 1A championship.
Matt Hadley, who has committed to play football at Brigham Young University, was much the show for the Eagles against Colville. He scored 19 of his team’s 30 points.
“That was a bunch of football players…they are huge,” Foulkes said of the wide bodies from Connell. “They are the biggest team we’ve played.”
Connell was saying the same about Colville’s front line of 6-9, 6-6, 6-5.
“Connell really brought the physicality,” Foulkes said, adding that the 5-11, 205-pound Hadley is the best guard his team has seen to date this season.
“Hadley is the team. Sometimes he plays the point. Sometimes he’s on the wing. He’s a great athlete—very quick and strong. But we made him work for those 19 points…we worked him.”
Colville was 12 of 19 at the free throw line and out-rebounded Connell 44-34.
CHS 11 9 7 13— 40
Con. 6 11 7 7-- 30
Colville—Shoemaker 3, Murto 0, L. Holling 1, T. Holling 0, Henry 4, Vaagen 1, Lee 3, O. Khater 0, Hubbard 16, Pond 12.
Connell—Hadley, 19, Huber 0, Holst 0, Vanderbilt 2, Fox 3, Carter 2, Williams 0, VanHollebeke 2, Hopkins 2.