Previewing a big weekend for Mount Si High School’s girls’ basketball program – on the club circuit……..

Good Friday morning. Normally, of course, we’re previewing and picking this week’s high school football games for Mount Si and Cedarcrest in this segment, but with there being no football to speak of at the moment even though you can go 350 miles east and find good games tonight – such as the city rivalry clashes in both Great Falls and Helena, MT – we’re going to talk hoops. We mentioned this a little bit earlier in the week, but we’re going to do a more in-depth preview of this weekend’s big youth girls’ basketball tournament in Idaho for you now.

The End of the Trail’s Gem State Classic marks the end of their 2020 schedule, but for many of the Washington state teams competing in the event, being held in locations around Middleton, ID, the competition marks a rare chance during this COVID-19 pandemic to see and be seen by the right people – college recruiters. Teams from all over Washington and around the Northwest are expected to compete in this event, and among those teams are five with some sort of Mount Si High School connection. Let’s take a quick look at those teams.

Team LaVine Karim: Preston-based Team LaVine has the bulk of the Wildcat representation in this weekend’s event, and their Karim squad, their top-flight team, features two Mount Si players. We mentioned on Tuesday about post Gwen Aasland. The senior is making her return to the court for game action this weekend, her first game action since she suffered a knee injury last December during a Wildcat regular season game. It has been a tough road to be sure, but Aasland has put in the hard work despite the pandemic and resulting restrictions which have limited practice and game opportunities for her and other athletes.

As we suggested on Tuesday, this perhaps is the most important weekend she’s going to have as a high school player, as the one thing colleges – and there are four that have indicated they’ll be paying attention, three of which are likely to be there in person – are probably looking to see is how she holds up following such a long layoff especially with the repaired knee. Aasland has a little bit of interest, but a good weekend this weekend will certainly make that interest a little stronger. It will be a help to her, too, that a Mount Si teammate will be alongside – sophomore Grace Turley is also on the roster for Karim and should see action as well this weekend.

Team LaVine Marr: Mount Si head coach Jason Marr is coaching this squad, but with there being no Wildcat players on the roster, he is able to coach this team as per Washington high school regulations regarding out-of-season contact. Instead, he is coaching his daughter, Ava, in this weekend’s tournament. The Marr’s have fielded a team that primarily includes players from the Northshore School District, where they reside, but this squad also has players from both Ellensburg and Lynden as well, so they’re drawing them from near and far for this one.

Team LaVine Ariel: This team largely features freshmen and sophomores, among them Mount Si sophomore Indi Edwards. She is listed as a forward. We have not seen her play yet, and are looking forward to the chance to catch her in action. Among her teammates on the squad are several from Kingco 4A schools, including Skyline, Issaquah and Eastlake. On the schedule for this squad tomorrow is an eastern Washington team called Northwest Express Chaos. Playing for that team is someone that will be familiar to Mount Si’s AD Chris Hill – Royal senior Raylie Wardenaar. Hill joined Mount Si this summer as its new AD after holding those same responsibilities at Royal, located in Royal City in Grant County.

Team LaVine Freshman: Mount Si freshman Breanna Griffith is one of a number of area high-school freshmen on this squad. Other schools repped insclude Skyline, Inglemoor and Issaquah, so plenty of Kingco 4A presence once again. A potential feature match on their weekend schedule will be the one Sunday against a team associated with Liberty High School’s program in Renton. Liberty has sent varsity-level and JV-level squads to the tournament while the program’s travel-ball feeder unit has sent a team of elementary-school age players to the event to play.

Liberty, the only area high school program doing this, may be prepping itself for what might be the norm in 2020-21 for high school hoops in Washington: programs having to form AAU squads as a replacement for a possible canceled season. With the COVID-19 case counts spiking around western Washington, the likelihood of an actual high school season in January is uncertain, so schools may look to form these kind of teams to provide players without access to normal AAU club programs such as LaVine’s an ability to play this coming winter if the season is canceled. Whether Mount Si or Cedarcrest will do this either for their boys or girls’ teams remains to be seen, but there’s plenty of time yet before any decisions are made.

Friends of Hoop Seattle 16U: The Seattle-based team, which we also saw at a recent tournament in Arizona, features Mount Si freshman – and Griffith’s classmate – Ella Spurlock. We had a chance to watch her in that tournament and liked what we saw. Spurlock, with plenty of other Wildcat people around including Marr, will get a good chance to impress future Mount Si teammates and coaches this weekend, and perhaps the college scouts too will notice. She is listed as a forward but we saw her in the game we watched from the tournament in Arizona doing a lot of work in the post position, so perhaps Wildcat fans might look for her to potentially be a presence there this coming winter. Among her teammates on this squad are several from Bothell and Woodinville.

Other teams: There are a number of other teams down there featuring Kingco talent – chief among those is the Bothell-based Way to Win. Their “Bronze” unit is there, and among their top players is one that Mount Si fans will be paying a lot of attention to this winter – Inglemoor sophomore Dulcy Solomon. Players from Woodinville, Lake Washington and Mercer Island are also listed on this team’s roster.

College scouts
Surprisingly, this event hasn’t drawn a lot of attention from colleges, but at least four have been announced that will be watching things. Three of them will be there in person – local Idaho schools Northwest Nazarene (NCAA Division II) and the College of Idaho (NAIA) along with Oregon’s Linfield (NCAA Division III). Also expected to watch the games online as per current NCAA regulations is Division I Montana. Montana as you know has offered a scholarship to Aasland’s Wildcat teammate Lauren Glazier, so perhaps they might decide to pay some attention to Aasland herself this weekend, we’ll see. If she were to somehow land an offer or even interest from the Grizziles out of a performance this weekend, that would be huge considering how much work Aasland has put in to get to this point. So we’ll see what happens.

Games in this event start tonight at 5:00 our time and are being streamed for $50. Go here for a link to sign up and pay for this weekend’s streams.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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