Eyes on the prize

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  • LOREN BENOIT/Press Post Falls guard Bayley Brennan looks to inbound the ball to a teammate in the Trojans’ 5A Region 1 Championship game victory over Lewiston last week.

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    Bayley Brennan of Post Falls drives down the court during a 2017 state 5A girls basketball game against Eagle at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa. Post Falls open this year’s tournament against Capital High of Boise on Thursday at 5:15 p.m. PST at the Ford Idaho Center. LISA JAMES/Press file

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    Courtesy photo Senior point guard Bayley Brennan is this week’s Post Falls High School Athlete of the Week. Brennan scored 23 points and had five assists in the Trojans’ 55-19 win over Coeur d Alene in the first round of the 5A Region 1 girls basketball tournament last Friday.

  • LOREN BENOIT/Press Post Falls guard Bayley Brennan looks to inbound the ball to a teammate in the Trojans’ 5A Region 1 Championship game victory over Lewiston last week.

  • 1

    Bayley Brennan of Post Falls drives down the court during a 2017 state 5A girls basketball game against Eagle at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa. Post Falls open this year’s tournament against Capital High of Boise on Thursday at 5:15 p.m. PST at the Ford Idaho Center. LISA JAMES/Press file

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    Courtesy photo Senior point guard Bayley Brennan is this week’s Post Falls High School Athlete of the Week. Brennan scored 23 points and had five assists in the Trojans’ 55-19 win over Coeur d Alene in the first round of the 5A Region 1 girls basketball tournament last Friday.

Bayley Brennan knew at a young age what she wanted her destiny to be.

Play all four years on the varsity basketball team at Post Falls High.

Check.

Be good enough to play college basketball.

Check.

Win a state title.

Stay tuned.

Brennan’s story begins like most others, playing in the parks and recreation league when she was 8.

“When I started playing, it was a lot of fun,” Brennan said. “Once I was in fifth grade, I knew that’s what I was going to do and that was going to be my sport. My dad (Nate) and I started working really hard on that, even in middle school. It’s been fun since the beginning.”

That fun also included playing on the North Idaho Elite AAU basketball team, coached by Chris Carlson and Carey Carlson, who also coach the women’s basketball program at North Idaho College.

“I joined them going into my freshman year because (fellow Post Falls High teammate) Melody (Kempton) was going onto that team,” Brennan said. “She told the coaches they should get me on that team as well. When I joined them, I played on the team as soon as I could.”

The Elite played in high-level tournaments around the Northwest, as well as in Arizona and California.

“It was a lot of fun,” Brennan said. “We were always traveling and it was super fun. Getting a chance to play against teams from California was really fun, as well as getting to play with the best girls around here. And I think being with them made me a lot better as a player as well. It was a really good experience.”

After graduation, Brennan, a 5-foot-8 point guard, will continue her playing career at Division II Seattle Pacific University.

“My freshman year, my dad and I were in Seattle for a tournament and he said, ‘Let’s go look at this school,’” Brennan said. “And I loved it.”

And while she had other options to continue her playing career, she had her heart set on Seattle Pacific.

“It’s always been one of my dream schools to go to and knowing coach (Julie) Heisey and (assistant) coach (Mike) Simonson, they’re good people,” Brennan said. “I knew I wanted to move into a city after living in Post Falls my entire life. It’s a great school, and a Christian school, so it felt like a perfect fit.”

Even though she had a chance to remain closer to home at NIC.

“I think they both really knew where I wanted to go,” said Brennan of the Carlsons. “They helped me with the process, but not to NIC really.”

Post Falls coach Marc Allert also knew Brennan was destined for big things on the basketball court.

“It’s been her dedication from a young age,” Allert said. “Basketball has been her focus for a long time, since third or fourth grade. To see her have that vision and work toward that every day has been impressive to see. It’s one of those things that if she’s in a gym by herself, she’s going in to do a workout. She doesn’t come in to just shoot around, but she’s working to get better.”

“I wrote out my goals when I was a sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grader,” Brennan said. “One of them was to make varsity all four years, and the other was to play college basketball. It’s just always been a dream. The one still on the list is win a state title.”

It’s something that Brennan has been working on for a lot longer than just her time in a Trojan varsity jersey.

“Since I was little, he (Allert) let me come to open gyms and shoot,” Brennan said. “He’s just always been a great coach. It’s great to have a coach where you can talk to them and if I’m struggling, I don’t have to hesitate to ask him. He’s got confidence in me and I’ve got confidence in him and we really don’t question each other.”

Brennan also maintains a 4.0 grade point average.

“She uses that same drive on the basketball court in the classroom,” Allert said. “You know she’s going to do things the right way. I’ve never had to worry about her. She’s going to do the right thing. She’s consistent, and you know you can count on her.”

Post Falls (21-2) opens the state 5A tournament on Thursday at 5:15 p.m. PST, facing Capital (18-5) of Boise at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa.

“This is a really special team,” Brennan said. “It’s hard to just take one thing, but obviously there’s a lot of talented players on the team. None of us are selfish, so the goal is to win the games. It’s about ‘us,’ not ‘me,’ and just to play well.”

Post Falls advanced to state with a 75-37 win over Lewiston in the regional title game. The Trojans scored 74 of their points in the first three quarters, with the starters sitting the fourth quarter.

“We’re just focusing on the next play,” Brennan said. “When we’re focusing on getting everyone else involved and focused on the next play, that’s when we’re playing unselfish. I didn’t realize we were up by so much, and that’s a result of just focusing and not worrying about anything else.”

The Trojans beefed up their schedule this season, taking on Central Valley High of Spokane Valley, as well as playing in the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas, going 3-1 in the tournament. Post Falls lost 59-48 at Central Valley on Dec. 17.

“Central Valley and the game we lost in Las Vegas were the best competition we’ve faced this season,” Brennan said. “I think it was good for us to play with teams like that because it shows we can compete against teams like that, as well as what we need to work on and focus on.”

When not playing basketball there, Brennan said the team was able to enjoy Las Vegas as well.

“We went to the Vegas strip multiple times,” Brennan said. “We got to see the boys play a few times and went shopping. It was really good team bonding time too. We never watched a show, but just going into the different hotels was really fun. We all really wanted to experience all of that. I liked Caesars Palace. It was really pretty, with the sky in it. It was really cool.”

Post Falls finished third at state in 2017, the school’s first trip since winning the title in 2013.

“I’m driven by a lot of competitiveness and wanting to win,” Brennan said. “I don’t want to take anything for granted. God gave me the talent to play basketball, and I don’t want to take any of it for granted. I want to play for God and for my team. I’ve learned from my teammates that hard work pays off. Just playing like a team, playing together and winning games is about playing together as a group, and just not for yourself.”

Brennan has some memories of that 2013 team, watching them play and practice.

“I remember coming to open gyms and watching them play,” Brennan said. “I’ve always looked up to them and going to camps where they were the mentors. I did some work with Katie (King) before I got to high school and I’ve always looked up to Brooke (Litalien) and Dani (Failor) because they’re great girls. I’ve always wanted to be like them when I got to high school.”

“A lot of her growth has been in her leadership,” Allert said. “We’ve talked a lot about her being more of a vocal leader. She leads more by example because she’s always came in (to the gym). Even as a fourth-grade kid, she’d be coming in here and doing open gym stuff and working on the side. I knew she was going to be good because of her work habits. Her calling out plays and calling out stuff, taking some ownership of things, she’s kind of figured out the mental and leadership aspects.”

Now to check off that third goal. That process starts on Thursday.

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