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It's been a long time coming and hoops fans are going to love it. With the expansion of the Greater Spokane League, Eastern Washington's largest schools can finally play a non-league game. With 11 teams in the league, it was a 20-game league schedule in years past.
Saturday at the Kennel five of the best boy's and girl's squads from the "Wet-side" invade GSL turf in the Varsity Hoops Live East-West Classic.
Opening tip-off is set for 11:00 a.m. with the Roosevelt (25-2 in 2002/5th at state) and Mead (15-6 in 2002) girl's squads getting things started. WSU-bound 5' 11" wing Adriane Ferguson was a first-team All-GSL pick last year, averaging 15ppg.
At 12:30 p.m. it's the Capital Cougars taking on the Mead boys and future Zag 6' 8" Adam Morrison. Morrison, who just keeps growing, will have a good match-up with 6' 6" Devon Conner-Green. Adam proved this summer that he is more than a scorer as he really stepped up his inside game and did some serious banging in the paint. Capital has several 6' 5"/6' 6" physical guys so it should be quite the battle inside.
At 2:00 p.m. it's 2002 3A state girl's champion Seattle Prep versus hometown Mt. Spokane. Prep, 26-2 in 2002, has UC-Irvine recruit Katie Urban and talented junior Che Oh. Mt. Spokane returns basically their entire squad and is expected to be in the middle of the playoff hunt.
Future Oregon point Aaron Brooks
Franklin and Central Valley get it on at 3:30 p.m. Oregon-bound guard Aaron Brooks and nationally-ranked junior guard Lyndale Burleson will battle it out with the tough Bears. CV returns a quartet of three-year starters and is the pre-season co-choice to win the GSL. The Bears had an impressive summer, winning numerous tournaments and showing a very physical and aggressive defense. In fact, they won the Franklin Tournament early in the summer. These guys really attack. 6' 5" Derek Taylor, 6' 5" C.J. Nagel, 6' 1" Ryan Heacock and 5' 11" Justin Bright have played a ton of hoops for the Bears and had hoops buffs around the state buzzing with their "Go Hard or Go Home" play during the summer.
High Major recruit Lyndale Burleson
The speedy Burleson is being courted by Gonzaga. He was impressive this summer playing the point when Brooks left their AAU team to play with the National Junior team. Josh Heytvelt and Marvin Williams were also on that team. The Quakers have been a guard-dominated team for the last few years but they do have a group of young "bigs."
In the finale at 5:00 p.m. it's a match-up of the two squads who have been in the last two 4A state championship games. Two-time defending state champion Lincoln fights it out once again with the Ferris Saxons. The Abes have added 6' 9" Maurice Shaw, one of the top-rated power forwards on the West Coast. Ferris has 6' 6" Adam Seaburg who begins his fourth season playing on varsity. The past two years it has been Lincoln's back court that has gotten it done in the big game. Coach Tim Kelly graduated his guards while Ferris saw an end to the great career of current Zag Sean Mallon. The rivalry has begun. You know these two squads will be pumped for this one.
Six of the top-10 boy's teams in the Coaches Pre-season Top-10 Poll are under one roof for a day of great hoops. Get there early. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for students at the door.
Many thanks to Bill Nance for text and photos.