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Notebook: Post Falls boys faring quite nicely with rugged basketball schedule

At first it appeared to be a misprint.

The Post Falls boys basketball team’s schedule showed six games in six days.

Not only that, but after the third game – the Trojans’ final contest at North Idaho College’s holiday tournament – they boarded a bus on New Year’s Eve and headed to Boise.

The Trojans went 5-1 in that stretch, falling only to talented Wilson of Tacoma 64-55. In the first rankings for 2015, Post Falls (12-1) was tied with Highland of Pocatello atop Idaho’s 5A poll.

Post Falls coach Mike McLean knows there are some who thought he was insane to put together a schedule like he did. It amounted to 13 games in just under a month. They’ll play eight games in the next month to conclude the regular season.

“I thought we’d be pretty special this year so I went out of my way to challenge us as much as I could,” McLean said. “I knew we wouldn’t be 13-0 now. There were too many variables. But I wanted to challenge our guys mentally and emotionally. I knew physically we’d be OK.”

The Trojans’ schedule also included a flight to Reno, Nevada, for two games.

The home schedule has suffered, though, as the Trojans have just six home games this season, with three remaining.

Post Falls broke up the trip to Boise by stopping at a rest area near the Tri-Cities to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Then the Trojans arrived at a motel in La Grande, Oregon, at 1:30 in the morning. They got up about nine hours later, had a shootaround at Eastern Oregon University and drove the rest of the way to Boise where they played that evening in the first of three games at CenturyLink Arena.

“People go to work every day. I didn’t think it was asking much to play six games in six days,” McLean said. “The way we practice, I knew we’d be physically able to handle it.”

Post Falls’ most recent game was last Saturday. The Trojans go to Coeur d’Alene on Tuesday for an Inland Empire League opener.

That’s a 10-day window between games. McLean gave his players Monday through Wednesday off.

“Had this not been an experienced team I wouldn’t have put together a schedule like that,” McLean said.

McLean believes the schedule has been great preparation for the postseason.

“Obviously, we can score and we can score in a variety of ways,” he said. “We need to shore up some things defensively. We have as much offensive versatility as I’ve ever had including the state title team.”

McLean would have been open to playing opponents closer to home.

“For whatever reason we can’t get any (Greater Spokane League) teams to schedule us,” he said. “I would play any GSL school that would want to play.”

Is it the water?

There’s something else special going on at Post Falls.

The Trojans’ wrestling team followed up its first Tri-State tournament title by winning its first title at the Rollie Lane tournament in Nampa, Idaho, topping Crook County (Oregon), which is ranked 31st in the nation by Intermat.

Post Falls is ranked 50th by Intermat. No other Pacific Northwest school is ranked.

The Trojans have placed second, second and third the last three years at state. They believe this is their breakthrough year.

“It’s really cool to see them hitting on all cylinders,” coach Pete Reardon said. “This is a really tight group. They love working hard together. We have great chemistry. When you have all of that combined it’s amazing. We’ve been preaching that this is all practice for the end of the season.”

Post Falls hosts its annual tourney, the River City Duals, this weekend. The Trojans are favored but they expect Columbia of Nampa, Colville and Pasco to challenge.

Commitments

Three area football players have given the University of Idaho oral commitments.

Headed to Moscow are Jace Malek of West Valley, Zion Dixon of Lake City and Cade Coffey of Lakeland.

Malek (6-foot-2, 245 pounds), a fullback/defensive end, said he’s projected as a fullback and tight end at Idaho. He was first-team All-Great Northern League on defense and second team on offense.

“Idaho is exactly where I need to be,” Malek said. “The team has been a little shaky, but they’re going to be tough the next couple of years and I’m excited to be part of it.”

Malek, who was a runner-up at 220 pounds in the State 2A wrestling tournament the last three years, moved up to heavyweight this season. He wants a state championship that has eluded him.

Dixon (6-4, 290) chose Idaho over preferred walk-on offers from Boise State, Washington State and Oregon.

He was a two-way starter for LC, which advanced to the State 5A semifinals. He was named to the 5A All-Idaho second team on offense.

“Idaho is a good fit because it’s close to home,” Dixon said. “It’s a good opportunity to get playing time. I think (coach Paul) Petrino is turning it around and I want to be part of helping him turn the program around.”

Dixon, also a wrestler, placed fourth at state last year. He has his sights on a state title.

Coffey (6-2, 185) earned a reputation the last three years as having a big leg as a punter and placekicker at Lakeland. He was named for a second straight year to the 4A All-Idaho first team.

A four-year starter, Coffey holds the school field goal record at 57 yards. He helped lead Lakeland to the postseason the past two years.

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