ELLIOTT: A Starr for the Tigers in all sports

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Whether it has been basketball, soccer or softball, a Starr has been right in the middle of it for the past four years at Timberlake High.

And while others might have shined a little more in front of her, make no mistake, Shelby Starr isn’t about to take her senior year for granted.

STARR HAS competed on varsity all four years in basketball, soccer and softball for the Tigers, helping her team advance to state in each year.

She has signed to play basketball at NAIA Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, and also plans to play softball there.

“I’ve always really liked playing softball,” Starr said. “I started playing it when I was really little, and I’ve always liked it. It really clicked with me. And I’ve always liked the team I’ve been on and it’s been really fun to play with them.”

Starr has played club softball for North Idaho Xtreme the past two summers. Starr also was on varsity all four years for the Tiger girls soccer team, which finished second at state in 2014, third in 2015 and was consolation champions in 2016.

“I like playing both softball and basketball, and wanted to go somewhere where I could do both,” Starr said. “Casi Reisenauer, my softball coach (at Timberlake) and (Timberlake athletic director) Mr. (Jim) Simpson both played at Eastern. Casi knew both the softball coach and AD at Eastern. The girls down there are so cool. It just felt like home.”

Starr also had interest from North Idaho College and Walla Walla Community College.

“When I went to visit Eastern Oregon in October, I really knew I wanted to go there,” Starr said.

Starr played a key role in Timberlake’s state basketball titles in 2016 and 2017 as a guard.

“My sophomore year, when we were playing 5-for-5 (when the team subbed five players at a time, like a hockey line change), it was a really fun year,” Starr said. “It was really unique the way we did things that year. It was crazy, but fun to watch. That team, we did everything together. Even outside of basketball, we had so much good chemistry.”

TIMBERLAKE ENTERS this week’s state 3A tournament with an 18-3 record and will open with Buhl High on Thursday at 12:15 p.m. PST at Skyview High in Nampa.

Starr and fellow seniors Lilly Kelley and Kaylee Jezek have been a part of the varsity program all four years.

“Kaylee, me and McKeeley (Tonkin, a junior) have been playing together since the third grade,” Starr said. “We’ve always been playing together.”

Following the District 1 championship game, a 70-24 win over Kellogg on Feb. 7, Starr was named the Intermountain League’s Most Valuable Player.

“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” Starr said. “There’s a bunch of really good players on this team. It was really exciting when they called my name.”

Timberlake girls basketball coach Matt Miller wasn’t as surprised.

“She’s much more assertive with the ball this year,” Miller said. “She has the ball in her hands more this year, and her decision making has been really good. She’s always been an excellent defender and she’s always made the big plays on the defensive end that have translated to the offensive end. So she’s always been good that way. She’s a little more versatile inside and outside as well, so she’s really grown in those areas too.”

Timberlake tied a state record in 2017, allowing 16 points in a 67-16 win over Teton in the opening round at state.

“It’s so much fun to play defense the way we do,” said Starr of Timberlake’s full-court trapping defense. “We’re usually all over the place, but it’s so much fun to play that way. Pretty much since my freshman year, I knew we were pushing for a state championship. I’m already nervous, but super excited for state since it’s my senior year.”

Starr knows it will take a complete team effort to bring back another title this year.

“We’ve been depending a lot on the seniors the last few years for that leadership role,” Starr said. “We’ve stepped up and we’re ready for this weekend. Everyone contributes this year. It’s not just one person. It’s everyone.”

Starr is second on the team in scoring (11.0 ppg), leads in steals (4.0), and also averages 3.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.

“Shelby has looked to score and scored more this year,” Miller said. “She’s a really strong player in every facet of the game.”

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d’Alene Press. He can be reached by telephone at (208) 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via email at jelliott@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter @JECdAPress.

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