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Vikings limp into season

by MARK NELKE
Sports Editor | November 16, 2010 8:00 PM

Though he'd obviously not want to have to go through this again, Coeur d'Alene High girls basketball coach Dale Poffenroth is used to guiding Viking teams missing key players due to injuries.

This year, Coeur d'Alene opens with two key members sidelined with torn ACLs - sophomore forward Kendalyn Brainard and sophomore post Carli Williams.

Brainard, injured at a college recruiting showcase tournament in Oregon in early July, started on last year's Viking team that won a third straight state 5A title. Williams, injured playing at Hoopfest in Spokane in late June, was projected as a possible starter inside.

Neither suffered cartilage damage, and Poffenroth said both could be back as soon as January.

"It would be really great if they could (come back so soon); I am impressed with their recovery," Poffenroth said. "They are farther along than I expected at this point."

Coeur d'Alene is the last local team to open its season, starting Thursday at Post Falls. The game was moved up a day to avoid conflict with Coeur d'Alene's football team playing for the state championship on Friday.

Kootenai opens tonight vs. the Coeur d'Alene Charter Academy at 7:30 p.m. at Holy Family Catholic School.

Lakeside opens Wednesday at the Post Falls junior varsity.

Here are quick looks at the three teams who open this week. All nine local girls teams will be profiled in the Press' winter sports special section on Nov. 27.

Coeur d'Alene: With Brainard sidelined, the Vikings (22-4 last season) have two other returning starters - senior post Carli Rosenthal, being recruited by many schools in the West, and senior guard Heather Baughman.

Other returnees are juniors Kyeli Parker and Erin Legel, and sophomore Caelyn Orlandi, all guards.

"It's their turn to step up and take over and continue on in the footsteps of those that came before them," said Poffenroth, beginning his seventh season at Coeur d'Alene.

Poffenroth is carrying five freshmen, including 6-1 post Sydney Williams.

Kootenai: The Warriors went 0-18 last season, but played their best game at the end, losing by three points to Mullan in the semifinals of the 1A Division II tournament.

"We were playing our best ball at the end of the season," fourth-year Kootenai coach Mike LaFountaine said. "We're going to come out of the gates playing as hard as we can."

Last year Kootenai had just 13 players between the varsity and junior varsity teams, and most played on both teams. This year the Warriors have a turnout of 21.

The Warriors lost just one starter from last season. Of the returnees, at least eight started at least one game last year. The returning seniors are posts Jocelyn Verkist and Hailee Mabbutt.

Lakeside: The 1A Division I Knights, who went 9-11 last season, return five players who started at one time or another last season - senior Joelle Miller, juniors Tah-wy-ah Davis and Michelle Whaley, and sophomores Brianna Louie and Shannon Miller.

But the point guard could turn out to be a newcomer - Francine Hendrickx - one of three freshmen on a varsity which also has two sophomores, two juniors and four seniors.

"She will not be intimidated," Lakeside coach Ron Miller said. "The strength of the team will be the younger kids. They're feisty, their aggressive, they're athletic, and they're fun to coach."

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