Feb. 2—After a rough start to the season against some top-tier competition, the Pullman boys basketball team went on a hot streak in the month of January.
The Greyhounds (13-4, 7-0) carry a nine-game winning streak into Clarkston today to face the Bantams (8-9, 2-4) in a 2A Greater Spokane League game against their area rivals.
The boys tip off at 7 p.m. after the Greyhound (6-11, 5-2) and Bantam (18-0, 8-0) girls play at 5 p.m.
"I think early, we were just doing a lot of teaching and they're starting to pick it up," Pullman boys coach Craig Brantner said. "It became easier for them to do the things we're asking them because of the repetition of it."
Pullman started its season 4-4, but all four losses came against teams that are on fire this season in Grandview (16-3), Freeman (18-2), Ridgeline (13-5) and Bonners Ferry (16-3). Since then, the Greyhounds are undefeated including back-to-back victories by 37 and 46 points against East Valley and Shadle Park, respectively.
That stretch also includes a 52-33 victory against the Bantams on Jan. 16.
"Pullman, they just have a sense of who they are," Clarkston coach Justin Jones said. "Craig does just such a good job of (getting them) playing their roles, and they play hard. They don't beat themselves.
"They have Champ (Powaukee) and Champ is a really, really good player that can make a lot of things happen on both ends of the floor."
Pullman senior Champ Powaukee is averaging about 18 points per game and the 6-foot-4 guard literally does a bit of everything for the Greyhounds. Powaukee had 25 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists in their last game against Shadle Park. Against East Valley, he had a triple-double.
"He's a kid we put a lot of faith in and he's willing to do a lot of different things to make us better," Brantner said.
Add in 6-foot-11 senior center Austin Hunt and last year's sixth-man Caleb Northcroft, and the trio has pulled all the newcomers up to speed in a hurry.
As for Clarkston, the Bantams continue to play great defense, but they're still trying to find ways to turn that defense into offense.
Clarkston is paced offensively by seniors Xander Van Tine — who had 15 points in a Tuesday loss to Rogers — and Carter Steinwand.
Fellow seniors Josh Hoffman and Nathan Somers add a gritty presence, particularly on defense.
Somers is playing his best basketball of the season as of late.
Somers has "really elevated us on the defensive end the last couple weeks," Jones said.
The Bantams have only allowed more than 70 points once this season.
"Defensively, watching them on film they're as good as anybody out there with what they do and how they do it," Brantner said of Clarkston. "I think what coach (Jones) is probably working on is stringing more quarters together. It seems like they have two or three strong quarters and ... they're not far away (from putting it all together)."
One thing Clarkston will have on its side is home-court advantage. The Bantams are 4-4 playing in front of their home fans this season.
"Our guys talk about going down there all the time and we tell kids it's fun and it's a good atmosphere," Brantner said. "It's probably one of the better atmospheres in the whole GSL because it's kind of confined and it seems like there's a lot of people there all the time. ... That high intensity makes (the game) feel even more important."
Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2260, email@example.com or on Twitter @StephanSports.