How are CHS, LHS teams faring? Area sports writer breaks it down

Josh Tatko, Sports Editor

What is your background as a sports reporter?
I started off at The Bengal’s Purr because I was a less than average sports competitor, and so I decided that if I wanted a career in sports that I had to become a good writer. Mrs. Egland was a great mentor to me, and she helped me master my craft. For my senior project, I got to be mentored by Theo Lawson from the Spokesman Review. Right out of high school, they were able to give me a part-time job over here (at the Tribune). I worked here for two years. After that, I took a break, and then the sports reporter position came open here. I didn’t get the full position, but Donn Walden offered me a part-time position. I’ve been lucky to have that opportunity.

What does Golden Throne mean to the valley?
Oh, it’s huge, not only for the community but for those kids. They’re gonna talk about it for a long time because there’s a select few kids out there that are going to go on to college sports. The majority are going to stay in the valley and go on to work with those other kids. And they’re gonna say, “Remember when I scored that game-winning shot against you?”’ because they’re working at CCI together. It’s big in the community because of the fundraising [ . . . ] and it gives the kids memories to share for a long time.

Lewiston Boys Overview
I think right now, they only have one loss on the record, and it’s against Lapwai. Lapwai is having, in the area, probably the best season. [For] Lewiston early on in the season, I think the biggest knock on them… I think they were letting teams hang around. They’re putting together marginal victories and putting things together. They’re winning games based on defense. They don’t let other teams score. They’re giving up less than 60 points per game.

Clarkston Boys Overview
Clarkston boys have got Xavier Santana, who, for my money, is one of those kids that is more fun to watch as a sports reporter in the area. He’s a difference-maker. I think that’s the biggest matchup to watch for is him and Jace McCarcher and see how well Jace can defend Xavier. They lost by 20-30 points against Lapwai. They came back and got third at the Avista tournament. (We) previewed the tournament and didn’t give them any shot, but they limited their possession and were able to win that game. They’ve got a lot of heart, and usually, you use that term to describe bad teams, but with Clarkston, it’s not a bad thing. It has a lot to do with the coach, Justin Jones. You can see he has a culture, and his players really embrace that.

Lewiston Girls Overview
I think as of the last couple of weeks, they’re getting better at not being so one-dimensional, but they really are Katy Wessels. They need to have production from other girls. Jennika Ortiz has progressed the last few teams I’ve seen them play. Katy Wessels has had some of her worst games against Moscow and Post Falls recently. If they can keep it to where Katy Wessels is still scoring 15-20 points and two other girls scoring double digits, they’d be good, but they need to get their whole team going to produce.

Clarkston Girls Overview
They’ve been semi-underwhelming this year. I personally had higher hopes for them to produce more on the floor. They placed seventh at the Avista tournament. They do have a lot of talented players like Eloise Teasley, Erica Pickett. They’ve got a lot of talent, but I think they’re struggling to put it together. And that’s why I think it’ll be an interesting game. A team where they’re struggling to put it together and one that is really relying on the back of one girl. It’s gonna be fun to watch how Clarkston can put it together and if Lewiston can get some more high scorers.

Who do you think will win the girls game?
If you get all the girls to contribute on the Clarkston side, you’ve got a long game for Lewiston. Erika Pickett and Katy Wessels are a good matchup. Everybody in the gym is gonna wanna watch. And then there’s Ahnika U’ren. Through the season, she developed really well, and she’s going up against Kendal l Wallace, who has that “dynasty” to her. She’s shooting well, but in the Avista tournament, she was kind of cold. I think that’ll be the low-scoring game.

Who do you think will win the boys game?
I haven’t looked at the past couple Golden Thrones, but from when I was in high school to the year after [2017 to 2018], I think this is probably going to be one of the best Golden Throne matchups for boys and girls in a long time. Lewiston boys are 11-1 on paper, but they have a chance to lose any game that they’re in. The first six wins they were winning by an average of six points. They aren’t winning by a whole lot of points, and you’ve got Clarkston who, when they score, they score in bunches. They’ve got Xavier Santana and Dawson Blunt, both defensive pieces, who don’t score well, but they do well at what they do. I would not be surprised if this was an overtime game. I do think Lewiston squeezes it out. It’ll be close, though.