NELKE: Homecoming for G-Prep boys coach

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The game should be quite the story in itself.

Gonzaga Prep (2-0), ranked No. 1 by the Seattle Times in 4A, Washington’s largest classification, playing at Post Falls tonight at 7 at The Arena.

Post Falls (1-0) is ranked No. 1 in 5A, Idaho’s largest classification.

The matchup has folks wondering when the last time that happened, if ever — the top teams from Idaho and Washington squaring off.

As a subplot, the Gonzaga Prep boys coach, Matty McIntyre, was born and raised in Post Falls.

“Obviously I am very excited for the opportunity to play Post Falls and it will be a coming home of sorts for me personally,” McIntyre said earlier this week.

The first game of the night should be entertaining as well, as Gonzaga Prep’s girls (2-0), perennially one of the top teams in the Greater Spokane League, play at Post Falls (4-0), ranked No. 2 in 5A in Idaho, at 5:30 p.m.

And if you’re into tacos, come hungry. Proceeds from a taco bar from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday in the Post Falls High commons will help with expenses for the Post Falls boys and girls basketball teams as they travel to Las Vegas for the Tarkanian Classic — tourneys drawing teams from all over the country — later this month.

McINTYRE HAS plenty of ties to Post Falls.

“I was a diehard Trojan supporter and grew up going to all their games,” he recalled. “I attended the camps put on by (Post Falls boys coach) Hugh Hobus and others. My uncle, David Schlotthauer, is in the Post Falls High School Hall of Fame as an athlete and later coached for many years at Post Falls. His kids, Brent and Ross, both played for Post Falls and my family and I would always go to the games.”

McIntyre lived in Post Falls all the way through high school.

He went to Ponderosa Elementary, attended St. Mary’s in the Spokane Valley for junior high and then commuted to Gonzaga Prep for high school. He graduated from Prep in 1999.

Post Falls coach Mike McLean remembered McIntyre growing up. He said they even share some relatives, though he and Matty are not directly related.

McLean graduated from Post Falls in 1995.

“I remember watching Mike play in high school and I competed against his younger brother Jeremy (Post Falls High class of ’97) growing up,” McIntyre said. “Mike has done a tremendous job with the program. I have been very impressed watching from afar. His kids play incredibly hard and are very organized. It seems his teams have set the bar for Idaho basketball.”

Gonzaga Prep opened its season Saturday with a victory over Genesis Prep, last year’s state champions in 1A Division II, Idaho’s smallest classification.

“Genesis Prep was a very good team and I was impressed,” said McIntyre, who is in his ninth season as Bullpups head coach, after coaching the G-Prep sophomore team for five years and the junior varsity team for five more. “It is incredible that such a small school could be so talented. I can not imagine another small school challenging them. They have very good size and enough shooters to be competitive in the GSL.”

McLEAN SAID he has been trying to schedule to top-tier GSL teams since he took over as Post Falls coach 11 years ago. In recent years, GSL teams had few openings in their nonleague schedules, so the Trojans had to make numerous trips to the Tri-Cities to find “local” nonleague games.

“When I heard the GSL may have some openings, Gonzaga Prep was the first team I contacted,” McLean said. “I reached out to Matty, and he agreed to play. We are playing this year and next for sure, hoping we can continue this scheduling in the future. G-Prep is the basketball program all schools in the Spokane metro area measure themselves against.”

At least one G-Prep player should look familiar to Post Falls fans — junior Anton Watson, a former Coeur d’Alene resident and younger brother of ex-Coeur d’Alene High and Idaho Vandals star Deon Watson. The 6-foot-7 Anton Watson has verbally committed to Gonzaga.

“Anton is the real deal,” McLean said. “GU can recruit any kid they want in the country and the world — look at their roster. Anton is a GU signee, so you know he is really special. The days of GU throwing an offer out to a “local” kid is long gone.

“G-Prep also has the supporting cast around Anton. They are big, the most physical team we have played in a long time and have the pedigree it takes to win. They have two of the GU staff members’ kids on their team (AJ Few, a senior guard, and Liam Lloyd, a sopomore guard) and they can both really shoot it; I am assuming they have spent some time in the gyms shooting. The challenge with G-Prep is that they know who they are, accept their defensive mentality and execute their game plan so well. Some teams that accumulate all of this talent don’t play together or don’t play really hard on the defensive end. G-Prep is not like that, they play with the intensity to win on both ends and that is a credit to Matty and his staff.”

McLean said the Trojans are looking forward to the challenge.

“We’re just glad the GSL will play us,” he said. “I think its going to be a good measuring stick for us. We take a lot of pride that we can compete with anybody.”

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at Follow him on Twitter@CdAPressSports.

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