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Girls hoops tips off this weekend

by MARK NELKE
Sports Editor | November 11, 2010 8:00 PM

Six of the area’s nine high school girls basketball teams open their seasons this weekend.

Two start on Friday — Timberlake at Sandpoint, and Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy vs. Kellogg at the Silver Valley Tournament in Wallace.

On Saturday, Lake City and Lakeland open in Rathdrum, Post Falls travels to Moscow and St. Maries visits Sandpoint.

Here are quick looks at the six teams opening this weekend. The three others who open next week — Coeur d’Alene, Kootenai and Lakeside — will be covered next week.

And all teams will be profiled further in the Press’ winter sports special section on Nov. 27.

Lake City: The 5A Timberwolves, 15-8 last season, return all 10 players from last year’s roster. Sydney Butler, a four-year starter at guard, begins this season with 914 career points after averaging 18 points, 5.5 assists, 5 rebounds and 4 steals last year.

Junior Jasmyn Smith, the team’s leading 3-point shooter, is a three-year starter at point guard, and senior guard Gina Mitchell, second in scoring at 10 points per game last season, is another returning starter.

Senior post Jenny Kerr and senior guards Dailyn Ball and Alyssa Kacalek also started at times last year.

“We’re still guard-heavy,” third-year Lake City coach Royce Johnston said. “We take care of the ball, and with our shooters and not turning the ball over, I think we can stay in a lot of games, and create problems for the other team.”

Post Falls: The 5A Trojans, who lost all-time leading scorer Katelyn Loper to graduation, return two full-time starters from last year’s 13-9 squad — senior guard Tori Davenport, a two-year starter, and sophomore guard Brooke Litalien. Sophomore guard Katie King was a part-time starter last year.

Sophomore post Dani Failor (6-foot), a reserve last year and a projected starter this year, represents the Trojans’ only real size.

“We’re tiny, absolutely tiny,” said Post Falls coach Chris Johnson, beginning his 17th season. “Our goal is to play a lot of kids and give everybody a lot of minutes, because we’re virtually interchangeable except for our one post. We want to play up-tempo, play as hard as we can, then get someone else in and keep it going. We are small, but we’re fast and have good team speed.”

Other varsity returnees include seniors Josie Tennison and Kat Clancy, and juniors Shaundra Scott, Rai Franklin and Jessica Waller.

The Trojans will be missing three varsity players for the first two games — two for disciplinary reasons, one for not having the required 10 practices.

Lakeland: The 4A Hawks lost four seniors who started most of the time on last year’s 9-15 team, but the six returnees all played a lot last year.

Junior guard Darby Murray started most of the time last year. Senior wing/post Neena Buchmann started several games at the end of the season, and finished as the team’s second-leading scorer. Junior Cieana Close also started at times last year.

Other returnees include seniors Shelby Coder, Jenna Davis and Kerstyn Reed.

“We have quite a few girls who played quite a few varsity minutes last year; they may have not been starters, but they played a lot,” said Lakeland coach Steve Seymour, beginning his 16th season. “Even though we lost four starters, we’re ahead of where we were last year.”

St. Maries: The 3A Lumberjacks, who went 4-14 last season, have a new coach in Jay Sines, who has coached three years of seventh-grade girls basketball and one year of eighth-grade girls hoops in St. Maries.

“I have coached most of these girls before,” Sines said. “I want to pick up the pace a little bit, I want to run a little bit more, and I want them to attack the basket a little more.”

Senior point guard Tia Asbury and junior guard/post Dusti Huddleston are returning starters. Junior guard Jaylee Sines, daughter of the coach, started off and on last year, as did junior center Kaytrin Thaut.

The Lumberjacks will be shorthanded in the early going, with three girls out with illnesses.

Timberlake: The 3A Tigers return three starters from last year’s 17-4 squad which won the Intermountain League before stumbling at districts and failing to return to state.

“Hopefully we can have another solid regular season, but we need to try to peak that second week of February,” said Matt Miller, beginning his sixth season as Tigers coach.

Four-year starting post Cassie Thompson, expected to sign a letter of intent with the University of Portland this week, had walking pneumonia during districts last year, and sickness affected others on the team as well. The 6-2 Thompson averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds last season.

Caitlyn Nichols, the Tigers’ second-leading scorer the past three seasons, is a four-year starter at forward, and junior Kara Wenstrom is a three-year starter at point guard.

Coeur d’Alene Charter: The 2A Panthers finished 10-12 last season, their first as a varsity program. Logan Grant took over as head coach six games into the season and Charter went 9-7 the rest of the way.

“Last year it took them quite a while to adapt to what I expected,” said Grant, who had been an assistant coach on the Charter boys basketball team. “This year, with most of the girls returning, they know what I expect.”

Returning starters are Paige Kelly, a senior wing, and Lexi Turkenburg, a sophomore point guard. Kelly averaged 15 points and six rebounds last season, and Turkenburg averaged eight points, totaled 142 steals, and had a plus-67 steals-to-turnover ratio.

Junior post Brittany Urbaniak and senior guard Ana Uribe are other varsity returnees.

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