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The Front Row with MARK NELKE December 16, 2010

| December 16, 2010 8:00 PM

A couple of years ago, Darren Taylor had a story to tell and a lot of time on his hands to tell it.

In the 2006-07 season, Taylor coached the Lake City High girls basketball team to the state 5A championship, a season he described as "magical."

The previous season, the Timberwolves went to state, losing the consolation game to finish sixth.

Most of the team was back the following season, though three players quit during the season. Their city rivals, the Coeur d'Alene Vikings, were coming off a runner-up finish at the state tournament, and were favored to win the state title in 2006-07.

While Coeur d'Alene easily qualified for state, Lake City nearly didn't make it, needing what Taylor dubbed a "miracle" double-overtime victory over Post Falls in a loser-out game at the Region 1 tournament.

At state, Lake City won its first two games, earning a berth in the state title game ... against the Coeur d'Alene Vikings.

In the finale, Lake City jumped out on top early, weathered a Coeur d'Alene comeback and won a thrilling, hard-fought title game, 46-40.

The result is a 193-page book about how that team came together entitled "46-40 Forever - an intense journey to a basketball state title."

"It took two years to get it to where it is right now," Taylor said. "It was a labor of love."

Taylor coached the Lake City girls for nine seasons. Following the 2007-08 season, he was named Lake City's baseball coach in 2009 - with the stipulation that he give up the girls basketball job immediately. Grudgingly, he did, but the baseball job lasted just one year, and suddenly, for the first time in years, the former softball and boys golf coach at Lake City - as well as former American Legion baseball coach - was no longer coaching anything.

"I had the time because I wasn't coaching," Taylor said. "It was kind of a self-examination is what it turned out to be."

Finding someone to print the book took some doing, but through a former wrestling coach in the Silver Valley who is now teaching in Post Falls, Taylor was set up with a company that would print the book.

Taylor recently received 100 copies of the book and, through word of mouth, has already sold around 25 of them. He’s asking $10 per copy, and if he sells all 100, he would pretty much cover his initial investment of $1,000.

Most of the book is about that season, but other tales weave their way through the story — as a background and a postscript to that championship season.

A few excerpts — with Taylor providing the intro — are included in this column.

Like any book addressing controversy, this one is bound to ruffle some feathers. Taylor understands, but also said, “I didn’t want to hurt anybody. I put everything into the story that I thought was important.”

Taylor doesn’t want to call them “book signings,” but he does plan to bring some books to the Caddy Shack on Prairie Avenue on a couple of nights — this Saturday beginning at 5 p.m., and next Wednesday from 7 p.m. on — if people are interested in the book.

His wife, Jennifer, also has a few copies at her business, Taylor Made Hair Design, 21 W. Commerce Dr. Suite F in Hayden (just off Government Way).

“I just think it’s a good story,” Taylor said. “I hope it’s a story people in the city have fun reading.”

•••

Here is an excerpt about a hallway meeting with Emma Hawn’s father that had me more than a little bit worried.

The next day we had a normal two-hour practice at Lake City and nothing noteworthy happened. Afterwards was a different beast all together. Emma’s father, Ron, was waiting in the commons and asked to talk in private. KK (Kris Knowles) volunteered to join the conversation. I considered his offer, but said no thanks. I didn’t know Mr. Hawn that well, but I had heard that he was a very good boxer in his military days. He’s definitely one of those guys that looks tough. He has a menacing quality to him. He walked me down a secluded hallway, off the commons, before he started talking. I knew I could outrun him if I had to, but this hallway offered no escape routes. I have to admit, I was a little worried that I was going to take a beating from an irate father.

Here is an excerpt from the famous “cookie incident” that involved Michelle Judy and her husband Steve, who was the mayor of Coeur d’Alene at the time.

After the less than satisfying game, I gave a scorching post-game lecture and was about to leave the team, when a player tried to be a smart aleck and stopped me in my tracks. “Coach, do you want a cookie?” She was already into her goody bag and, obviously, not feeling the pain that I was about the big loss. I spun on her and said, “I don’t want a f------ cookie, I want a team with heart!” The room went silent. This became our explosive moment and everyone present knew that this would not be the end of this incident.

Finally, the Judy family had their opening. They pounced quickly, starting that very night. Michelle went straight to our principal, John Brumley, during the boys’ basketball game, played immediately after ours. Steve Judy went directly to the superintendent and the school board to demand my dismissal. The letter of reprimand, from softball, did not help my cause at all. The mayor didn’t stop there, he also went to Brumley, armed with an obscure city ordinance, and asked that I be removed both from coaching and from the classroom. The law was written in the 1800s, or something like that, and stated that public servants could and should be fired for the use of bad language. The amusing part of this attempt, by the mayor, was that his wife would also have to lose her teaching and coaching jobs for the same transgression. She cursed loudly during her half-time rant. The newspapers were informed of the controversy and ran with the scoop. It built unbelievable momentum. The “cookie” occurrence was voted one of the biggest stories of the entire year.

Here is an excerpt from the unfortunate result of scoring over 100 points versus the Sandpoint Bulldogs in 2003. We beat a very good team with an awesome effort, but the final score started another firestorm.

Aleasha (Satterthwaite)’s senior year, we beat them on our floor 101-42 and I almost needed a police escort out of our own gymnasium. After the game, one of the Bulldog parents got close enough to poke me in the chest several times, as the newspaper reporters were interviewing me. Administration pulled him away just before blows were exchanged. Their coach at that time, Scott Salesky, who I considered a friend and definitely a respected foe, would not shake hands after the game. He sought me out later, before boarding his school bus, and demanded an explanation for the ending. I explained it to him then and many more times to multiple people. It became another black-eye for me, as a head coach. I suffered through meeting after meeting, with my administration, and I eventually had to pen an apology to the entire Sandpoint team and school. I wrote it, but I truly felt that we didn’t do anything wrong, until the last basket of the game, when two of our players trapped the inbounds pass, on their end of the floor, stole the ball, and laid it in for our 100th and 101st points. The crowd was cheering them on, as our coaching staff was screaming at them, to get back on defense. The way this game unfolded to its mad conclusion needs to be examined closely.

Here is an excerpt from the magical double overtime victory over the Post Falls Trojans that allowed us the chance to go to state in 2007 and compete for the state title.

While the teams lined up for the free throw, I saw Richelle (Fenenbock) at midcourt, head down and hands on her knees. She looked defeated. My mind started to wander, to what I was going to say to our six seniors after the game. I had coached hundreds of close basketball games and girls’ teams almost never prevail when down two possessions in the last minute.

Richelle’s head snapped up, just before the shot was taken, and my attention was refocused by her sudden inspiration. The shot was missed, we rebounded it, Richelle took the outlet pass the other way and connected with Katie (Baker) at the high post. She was doubled immediately and dumped the ball to Riki (Moreland) in the right short corner, for a seven foot jumper. Nothing but net! We were down two with 19 seconds left and strangely no timeout was called by either coach. I had already put the team in our full court press, called Wolf, so my thinking was that we could catch them slightly off guard and not let them discuss the possibilities.

Finally, here is an excerpt from right before the start of the state title game at the Idaho Center in Nampa.

Time seemed to suspend, as the 10 athletes stood in the center of the basketball court. (Coeur d’Alene coach Dale) Poffenroth had changed the balance of power in Coeur d’Alene and every skilled hoop player was migrating to his machine. The future wasn’t very bright, but tonight we had enough talent to compete. Katie, Richelle, and Brittany (Bemis) would play basketball at the next level and Riki, Emma, and Amanda (Krier) had their sights on careers in other sports. We were far from helpless. This was going to be fun. The ball went up into the air and (Jenna) DeLong out jumped Katie again. The Vikings had the ball first, as both teams started their personal quests for glory.

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via e-mail at mnelke@cdapress.com.

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