Just as Sandpoint basketball’s gridiron counterparts turned heads at Whitworth’s Spokane Showcase, Sandpoint’s boys basketball team had a solid showing at Whitworth University’s team camp on June 14-16.
“We rose up and took the competition head-on,” Sandpoint head coach Wade Engelson said. “It was fun to watch. I think the guys — although they’re tired today — got a lot out of it and had a lot of fun. We walked away with the camp with the respect of other programs.”
The Bulldogs’ summer games have pretty clear objectives: Stay sharp during in-game situations, get underclassmen and JV players accustomed to plying at the varsity level and — for rising senior guard Kobe Banks — learn new positions.
Throughout summer, one of the team’s objectives will be finding its rhythm with Banks at the point guard, full-time. Despite running some sets at the point during his junior year, newly-departed senior Bruin Jones handled the bulk of the point guard duties. Ditto for rising senior Will Treadaway, who looks to have a bigger role in the wake of starting forward Alex Stockton’s graduation.
Stats weren’t kept throughout the camp — it was, after all, a summer league — but Engelson estimates that all three seniors put together a strong showing.
“Will Treadaway came close to averaging around a double-double with points and rebounds for the tournament,” Engelson said. “Ryan Roos had an excellent camp; he stood out on both ends of the floor. And Kobe Banks was able to attack the basket and really pass the ball well.”
Despite missing several players for commitments in other sports — namely football players Brandon Casey and Christian Niemela, plus baseball standout Ethan Butler — the new-look Bulldogs had several positive takeaways from playing at Whitworth,
From purely an entertainment standpoint, several of Bulldogs’ highlights of the camp came from a fast-paced game against Rogers. The Bulldogs and the Pirates pushed the pace, thanks to Ryan Roos and Will Treadaway scoring in transition and freshman Arie VanDenBerg hitting several threes to help the Bulldogs keep pace. As the teams traded baskets, they attracted a sizable crowd.
“It had the intensity of a regional playoff game,” Engelson said. “Pretty soon, people started gathering around the court from other games around the college. It was just back-and-forth and exciting, and we had several games like that.”
The Bulldogs led 43-42 with four seconds left before Rogers hit a game-winner.
Despite playing with a short bench and little-to-no rest, the Bulldogs impressed the camp directors enough that they were brought up to the large-school division for the tournament on the final day. There, they had the tall task of playing Ferris out of the Greater Spokane League with only six players; Eldridge was the lone reserve for the first half, but played over in the JV league for the second half.
“[Ferris] didn’t take us seriously in the first half,” Engelson said. “They were losing in the first half but with a couple minutes to go, they made a quick run to go ahead by three or four points. But from that moment on, they were like, ‘Hey, Sandpoint is for real.’ It was quite the battle.”
Sandpoint finished the three-day event with a 3-4 record, including wins over Class AA school Kalispell Glacier (Mont.), 2B school Northwest Christian (Colbert, Wash.) and Polson (Mont.) out of Montana’s Class A league.
And there’s a chance Sandpoint could see these teams again.
Although Engelson couldn’t name specific schools on the record, he did say several Spokane-area schools at the event reached out to him in preliminary non-conference scheduling talks. But for now, Sandpoint’s summer schedule is just getting started.
The Bulldogs will host Bonners Ferry for a summer scrimmage at Sandpoint High School this evening at 5 p.m.
They will also play at Gonzaga’s second team camp, held from June 30 through July 3.