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Locally: Former Gonzaga standout Jessie Loera signs pro contract in Iceland

UPDATED: Mon., Aug. 17, 2020

Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Jessie Loera (15) cuts down the net after defeating the Santa Clara Broncos during Gonzaga's Senior Night on Saturday, February 15, 2020, at McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash.   (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Jessie Loera (15) cuts down the net after defeating the Santa Clara Broncos during Gonzaga's Senior Night on Saturday, February 15, 2020, at McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash.  (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
From staff and news services

Fans of the Gonzaga University women’s basketball team considered Jessie Loera bulldog, both of the upper-case and lower-case variety; a Bulldog who played with the energy, grit and doggedness of a bulldog.

In Kópavogur, Iceland, where the 2020 Gonzaga graduate from Moses Lake will begin her professional career this fall with the hometown Breidablik Basketball Club, they’re also expecting a viper; a deadly 3-point shooter and team leader.

A translation from Icelandic to English on the team website introduced the 2019-20 All-West Coast Conference honorable mention guard this way:

“Jessie is a poisonous three-point shooter and a great leader who will lead the team’s game in line with the good core of existing players.”

And the team that plays in the country’s top-tier Dominos League can definitely use the 5-foot-6 “play director,” as the website calls Loera. After finishing last during the 2019-20 season with a 4-21 record and missing the playoffs, it lost the league scoring champion in the offseason, an American import from Texas, who left to play for a team in Spain.

Loera, who will celebrate her 23rd birthday on Aug. 31, started all 31 games for the Zags last season and played the third most minutes. She led the Bulldogs in assists with 150, a figure that ranked second in the WCC, averaging 4.8 per game, with a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio. She finished fourth all-time at GU with 445 career assists.

The former 4A All-State high school player also had a team-leading 68 steals, sixth in the WCC, and hit 28 of 74 3-pointers (37.8%) to highlight a 7.5 ppg average.

Kópavogur is the second largest city in Iceland with a population of about 35,000. It is located in southwestern Iceland, just south of Reykjavik, the capital and the country’s largest city, on the southeastern shore of Faxa Bay, an inlet of the North Atlantic Ocean. Its name has been interpreted as Baby Seal Bay or Seal Pup Inlet.

Basketball

Oti Gildon, the former Gonzaga Prep standout who went on to a solid four-year career at the University of Oregon, capped her rookie professional season with Quinta dos Lombos in Portugal by being named Eurobasket’s Portuguese Forward of the Year and to the All-Portuguese first team.

A catalyst on G-Prep’s back-to-back 4A State champions in 2014 and ‘15, Gildon averaged 16.8 points, 10th in the league; 10.2 rebounds, fourth; and 1.5 assists for Lombos Quinta. She shot 54.4% from the field and 40% on 3-pointers.

Late last month, Oregon announced that Gildon would be returning to the school to join the staff of her former coach, Kelly Graves, as the interim director of creativity/student athlete support. One of her responsibilities is expected to be scouting opponents.

Christy Martin, a native of Spokane and third-year head women’s coach at Saint Martin’s, was selected to the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association newly formed Social Justice Task Force.

Martin, whose early coaching stops included assistant positions at Ferris and Central Valley and the head coaching job at Liberty High School, is one of 14 members of the task force that is focused on promoting racial equality in hiring practices, training and education, and advocacy and awareness.

College scene

Eastern Washington will have six captains to send to the center of the field for the coin toss whenever the Eagles play their next football game. The 2020 season has turned into a 2021 spring campaign.

The coaching staff elected to add two seniors, defensive back Ty Graham from Cheney and offensive tackle Tristen Taylor, a sixth-year senior from Stockton, California, to the four announced earlier based on a team vote this summer.

They’ll join quarterback Eric Barriere, linebacker Jack Sendelbach, running back Tamarick Pierce and safety Calin Criner. All also are seniors. The six have played a combined total of 211 games.

Jovana Subasic, who was the third leading scorer on the Washington State women’s basketball team last season as a redshirt junior, has transferred to Oregon State and will play her final season for the Beavers as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-4 forward from Sabac, Serbia, appeared in 31 games for the Cougars last season, starting eight of the last 10, averaging 8.4 ppg. She led the Cougars with 30 blocked shots, a 0.97 average that was 10th in the Pac-12, and her 28 3-pointers were second on the team. She shot 45.7% from the field and 40% on 3-pointers.

Golf

• Locals Derek Bayley and Eric Ansett were in with some “heavy hitters” in the Western North Dakota Pro-Am at the Vardon Golf Club in Minot, N.D., during the weekend.

Bayley, from Rathdrum, shot a 23-under 265 for 54 holes, finishing with an 8-under 64 Sunday, to finish third, three strokes back of the winner. Ansett, formerly from Spokane now playing out of Nashville, Tennessee, was 17-under 271 after opening with a 65 to finish 12th. Each had four eagles during the four-day tournament.

• Bayley finished fifth in the one-day Dakotas Tour Siouxland Federal Credit Union Pro-Am on Aug. 10 at Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, shooting a 1-under 71, a week after he missed the cut at the South Dakota Open in Vermillion.

Loren Jeglum of Clarkston Country Club tied for ninth in the Northwest Section PGA Assistant Professional Championship last week at Bear Creek Country Club in Woodinville, Washington, to lead the showing by area golfers. Jeglum shot 8-over 152.

The first three finishers – Shane Prante (2-under 142), The Home Course; Colin Inglis (144), Shadow Hills; and Brady Sharp (144), Wine Valley – qualified for the 44th Assistant PGA Professional Championship Nov. 12-15 in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Youth sports

With team sports at least temporarily out of the picture in Spokane, the Spokane Youth Sports Association is offering individual training opportunities in a variety of sports, said SYSA executive director Phil Helean.

“SYSA is getting kids back on the field with sports clinics at Andrew Rypien Field beginning (Monday) and continuing into the fall with multiple sessions available,” Helean said.

He said soccer, flag football and track and field clinics will be offered following safety guidelines provided by Washington State, Spokane County Health District and Washington Youth Soccer. The SYSA release noted a cross country training session would be added.

“We’ve been getting feedback from families anxious for organized sports opportunities that fall within current health guidelines,” Helean said. “We are hopeful these sessions will provide physical activity, opportunity to build friendships, create a routine, learn new skills, and to have fun.”

The release said coaches and kids will be social distancing in small groups with a 5-to-1 kid/coach ratio.

To register and for more information visit www.sysa.com.

Miscellany

Wes Sohns, a native of California and former athletic trainer at Penn State and Tennessee at Chattanooga, has been hired as Eastern Washington University’s new head athletic trainer.

Sohns, whose official title will be assistant athletic director for sports medicine/NCAA health care administrator, began his new duties today (Monday). He will oversee a staff of four full-time assistants, the school’s graduate assistants and undergraduates in athletic training.

From February 2020 to April two months later, until COVID-19 hit, Sohns was an assistant athletic trainer for the XFL and the Los Angeles Wildcats. The league was owned by Alpha Entertainment, which declared bankruptcy in April.

Prior to that, Sohns spent 1½ years at Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he oversaw athletic training services for the football program in 2018 and 2019. Before leaving for the XFL, he was serving as the school’s interim director for sports medicine.

His longest tenure came from 2008-18 at Penn State, where he worked with the Nittany Lions football team. In the spring of 2018, he served as the interim head football athletic trainer.

• People who purchased chunks of the iconic original red turf on Eastern Washington’s Roos Field will be able to pick up the turf starting Wednesday (Aug. 19) at noon and are asked to RSVP when they will pick up their order by visiting ewu.edu/give/funds/stadium/buyturf/.

Options for a third-party pickup and other information are also available on that page, and information is also available by calling (509) 359-6208 or emailing eaf@ewu.edu.

The drive-through pickup will take place in the upper parking area (P-12) at Roos Field. Signage on Washington Street will direct fans and attendants will guide them to a socially-distanced pick-up area.

A school release noted about 37,000 square feet of the old turf, originally installed in 2020, was sold and more than $118,000 was raised to benefit EWU student-athletes.

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