THE FRONT ROW with MARK NELKE: TALES FROM THE ROAD: An unusual defense, and other stories

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It was 2003, Kris Knowles’ first year as head boys basketball coach at Lake City High.

The Timberwolves had opened the season with a pair of games in the Boise area.

On this night, the Sandpoint Bulldogs came to town, coached by Tyler Haynes.

“There’s lots of history there,” Knowles recalled. “I played for his dad (Donny), Tyler and I are great friends, so there’s a lot riding on this game. It was a 5A/4A game ... ”

The game was tight at halftime.

“The coaching staff — myself, Brian Childs, Kelly Reed, Dave Fealko — we all were thinking, ‘They’re going to play zone in the second half,’” Knowles said.

“They come out, and by God, they’re in a zone. The interesting part about it was, they were in a 3-3 zone. There was six kids on the floor. And it was our ball. As soon as we throw the ball in, I’m looking down there, and Sandpoint’s in a 3-3 zone. The official closest to me ... I’m screaming at the top of my lungs, ‘They’re in a 3-3 zone! There’s six guys on the floor! That should be a ‘T’!’ By rule, that should be a technical foul — two shots, and our ball.

“So obviously as a coach, I want our free throws. And it seemed like, and I know it was only like 8, 9, 10 seconds, but it seemed like a month they were sitting in a 3-3 zone. And finally, said official comes over and says, ‘OK, Kris, I got this.’ I’m thinking, ‘Perfect, technical foul, two shots, we’re rolling.’ He comes over to the scorer’s bench and he calls over myself and Tyler Haynes and he says, ‘You know what, boys? We’re just going to start the half over again.”

“So we just started the half over again, and Sandpoint was allowed to get into their 2-3 zone,” Knowles said. “And I don’t think any of us on the Lake City side were very happy about that.”

Haynes laughed when he was asked for his recollection of what happened.

“I don’t think I’m above trying that, but I probably got called on it,” he said. “I don’t really recall that, to be honest with you.”

HAYNES COACHED Sandpoint’s boys for a total of 11 seasons in three different stints.

In 2009, his team notched the Bulldogs’ first win at state since 1966.

The star of his state-bound Bulldog team was Stefan Buratto, who holds the school single-game scoring record of 42 points.

“Buratto was a pretty good player, and we had a rule — the bus leaves on time, period. Bus leaves on time,” Haynes recalled. “We say that all the time to players, the day before an away game.”

Sandpoint’s boys and girls teams were headed to a tournament in Pendleton, Ore. Lance Bruce, who was the boys coach the previous season before Haynes returned for his final stint, was now the girls coach.

“The bus was scheduled to leave at 6 a.m. And 6 a.m. rolled around and Buratto wasn’t there,” Haynes said. “And Lance looked at me and, nonchalantly, says, ‘Bus leaves on time?’

Replied Haynes: ‘Hell, no, the bus doesn’t leave on time! I’ll (leap in front of) this bus before it leaves without Buratto!’

As it turned out, Buratto was about 10 minutes late, “And he had to endure a butt-chewing,” Haynes said.

“But the bus stuck around.”

BEFORE HE became boys basketball coach at Post Falls and now at Lakeland, Dave Stockwell was a longtime assistant girls basketball coach with Dave Fealko — first at Coeur d’Alene, then at Lake City.

Stockwell took over for Fealko as Lake City head coach, then was an assistant with the Gonzaga women’s team for a season, before becoming a boys head coach.

On this year, Stockwell and Fealko were at Coeur d’Alene. The Vikings were opening their season with a pair of games in the Boise area.

“And in Dave’s case, his inlaws lived in Cottonwood, and he’d always take his boat down there and store it for the winter,” Stockwell said. “We’d take the bus and pick him up and go down through Idaho.

“Just before Riggins, there’s a little rest stop right on the river,” Stockwell continued. “We were in using the restroom. In those days, they’d give you a big wad of cash to feed the girls for those three days or whatever ... so he had a big wad of cash, and he (Fealko) says to me, ‘Watch this.’ There was a paper sack in the garbage area, and he put all the money in the paper sack. When we got back on the bus, the girls are all on there, he came on last, he turns to me and goes, ‘Look what I found in the trash?’ And he takes that paper sack and he just rips it open and there was all that cash. And those girls are all, ‘Holy ..... how lucky can that be?’

“That was the end of the story, except when we got home, Dave was called into the office,” Stockwell said. “The girls told their parents, and the parents told the school that Dave found all this cash, and the school wanted to know what he did with all that cash. It was the food money; the girls never did figure it out until later.

“It was a great prank.”

COACHES: If you are a current or former coach in North Idaho, and have stories you’d like to share of crazy bus trips, humorous encounters with officials, or bizarre occurences during game, feel free to email me at

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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