You thought high school basketball was over.
You are wrong.
The SWX All-Star Classic is set for Sunday, March 24, at Yakima Valley Community College, and it pits 15 players from the Yakima region against 15 from the Tri-Cities region.
Tip-offs are 4 p.m. for the girls game, while the boys will play at 6 p.m.
Tickets cost $5 for adults, and $3 for students, seniors and military.
If you can’t make it to the game, SWX television will be broadcasting the event.
The all-star games were originally a brainchild of former Yakima Herald Republic sports editor Jim Scoggins and former Tri-City Herald sports editor Jim Riley.
The first year it was held was in 1994, and it ran for 22 years before the game went dormant in 2016 and 2017.
The game was revived by Parker Hodge, myself, and the crew over at SWX/KNDU last season, with last year’s event held at Kamiakin High School.
This year, Yakima Herald Republic sports editor Jerrell Swenning is also helping put the games back together.
This year’s proceeds will go to the YMCA of Yakima.
Rosters are being formed for the event and should be finalized next week.
Some of the boys basketball players committed to playing are Richland’s Cole Northrop, Chiawana’s Kobe Young, Hanford’s Connor Woodward, Prosser’s Haden Hicks, Selah brothers Elijah and Noah Pepper, and Zillah’s Antonio Salinas.
Some of the girls committed to playing are Tri-Cities Prep’s Talia von Oelhoffen, Chiawana’s Clare Eubanks, Kamiakin’s Symone Brown, Wapato’s Janealle Sutterlict, Sunnyside’s Ashlee Maldonado and La Salle’s Trista Hull.
Lupfer at Walla Walla High
In the middle of all of the winter sports last month, Walla Walla hired a new football coach to take the place of Eric Hisaw, who resigned last fall after the season ended.
Greg Lupfer, a Dayton High School graduate who has been a longtime college and high school assistant around the country, was hired as the Blue Devils head coach.
Lupfer has extensive coaching experience. He’s been an assistant coach at Boise State, Portland State, University of Toledo, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Colorado State University. He just finished as the defensive coordinator at Grand Prairie High School in Texas.
“We want to welcome Coach Lupfer and are excited for him to take over the football program for Walla Walla High School,” said district athletic director Dirk Hansen. “Coach Lupfer has ties to the area. He is a graduate of Dayton High School and is looking forward to reconnecting with the Pacific Northwest.”
Lupfer, a graduate of Portland State University, is working with Hansen to develop a calendar and operational plan for working with assistant coaches, spring football and summer conditioning programs and the upcoming season.
“I’m very excited,” Lupfer told the Herald. “It’s going to be great being back home. I’ve checked for the last three years if that job ever opened.”
After being in the college game, why come back to the high school game?
“No. 1, I’ve always wanted to be a head football coach, and I like a challenge,” said Lupfer, whose first day in the Wa-Hi school district is scheduled for Monday.
The new coach will see some familiar faces, to him, in the MCC.
“(New Kennewick High coach Randy) Affholter coached me when I played at Walla Walla Community College,” said Lupfer. “I played for (former Chiawana offensive coordinator) Dave Spray and (Chiawana head coach) Steve Graff when I was at Dayton High School. Coach Graff and I are already talking smack to each other.”
Lupfer wants to meet the potential Wa-Hi assistant coaches.
“My plan is I want to interview each assistant coach,” said Lupfer. “I want to find out who wants to be really, really part of this program. I’m going to run this as much as a college program as I can.”
Lupfer said he’s watched some film of last year’s Blue Devils team, and a lot of what his team does will depend on the personnel.
“We’re going to be physical offensively. Try to run the ball,” said Lupfer. “Defensively, we’ll see what the players can do. But we’re going to be as tough as nails.”
More coaching changes coming
There will be at least three coaching changes in the MCC next year when it comes to basketball.
Chiawana girls coach Steve Davis, who coached at Pasco and then Chiawana the past 18 years, stepped down right after his Riverhawks team was eliminated last week at the state tournament.
Casey Arstein resigned as the Hermiston boys coach after the season ended. Arstein and his wife recently had a baby, and his wife is going to grad school. So Arstein is going to help with child care.
Also, Mike Patterson resigned as Walla Walla boys coach after one season, citing personal reasons. Patterson was a longtime assistant coach for John Golden, and he took over the reins of the program after Golden resigned last year. Patterson will stay on as the Wa-Hi golf coach.
Spring sports fun
High school athletic directors have definitely earned their money this school year in just the past month alone.
What with having to reschedule basketball tournament games constantly, thanks to snow days, to trying to get their springs sports teams off and running, there has been a lot of work for these AD’s.
Hermiston’s maintenance staff did a yeoman-like job of clearing Kennison Field of all the snow this week to allow eight of the nine MCC boys soccer teams to actually get in some action against one another in a jamboree. Only the Pasco boys soccer team wasn’t there.
AD’s have already revamped the MCC soccer schedule. Rather than have a double round-robin schedule – like the girls had in the fall – teams will play each other once in MCC play.
Softball, tennis and golf have seen cancellations this week. Some area baseball teams have gone over to the west side of the state to play non-conference games.
That’s a switch. For years, it’s been a tradition for west side teams this time of year to come over to the Tri-Cities to play non-conference games because of this region’s mild weather.
Ellensburg’s Steele Venters, whose father is former Richland star Wade Venters, will play men’s basketball at Eastern Washington University next season. … Midfielder Jenn Inions, who prepped at Prosser and just finished her sophomore season at Walla Walla Community College, will play women’s soccer next fall at Embry-Riddle in Arizona. … Kiona-Benton’s Maloree Calzadillas, who won a state girls wrestling championship last month in Tacoma, is headed back to Tacoma. Calzadillas signed a letter of intent this past week to play volleyball at Tacoma Community College in the fall.