Central Valley soars to double runner-up effort at state

Austin Rehkow stood at the free throw line with a mere 22 seconds remaining in a Washington state quarterfinal game between Central Valley and Garfield last week, his team clutching a two-point lead.

With the bright lights of the Tacoma Dome reflecting off the court and a raucous section of Garfield fans imploring him to miss, Rehkow calmly eyed the basket, released the ball and watched the backspin carry it toward the hoop.

Central Valley junior Austin Rehkow elevates for a jumpshot in the Washington 4A championship game against Davis of Yakima last Saturday in the Tacoma Dome.
Photo by Craig Howard.

All eyes followed the arc of the shot as it settled comfortably through the twine. Central Valley 51 – Garfield 48.

Rehkow’s second shot also found the net, staking the Bears to a four-point lead.

After a Garfield hoop made it 52-50, Adam Chamberlain stepped to the line for Central Valley with 12 seconds left in the game. Following a miss and a timeout, the sophomore cooly sank his free throw. The point would turn out to be the winning margin in a 53-52 victory for CV over the Metro League powerhouse and 11-time state champ.

Adam Chamberlain breaks the press in Central Valley’s semifinal win against Union of Camas last Friday in Tacoma. Chamberlain was the only sophomore starter on the team.
Photo by Craig Howard.

Rehkow, a member of the Belle Terre Ward in the Spokane East Stake, and Chamberlain, a member of the Mica Peak Ward in the Spokane Valley Stake, were integral parts of Central Valley’s record-setting run this season, a campaign that concluded last Saturday with a second-place state finish. The team set a new school mark with 19 straight wins before falling to Davis of Yakima, 48-42 in the 4A state championship.

Chamberlain, who scored nine points and had four rebounds in Central Valley’s 52-51 semifinal win over Union of Camas, said it was clear that the final bracket in Tacoma – featuring the eight best 4A squads in Washington – represented a genuine challenge.

Austin Rehkow dribbles down court in the state semifinal game against Union of Camas. The win was Central Valley’s 19th in a row spanning back to Dec. 28.
Photo by Craig Howard.

“Looking around at all those teams when we got there, I knew it was going to be tough,” he said.

Against Union, Central Valley would require every last point to move on to the championship game. BYU-bound senior Jordan Chatman poured in 29 points for the Titans, including an 85-foot desperation shot as the final buzzer sounded.

Both Rehkow and Chamberlain averaged just over six points for Central Valley in the three state games. Rehkow pulled down six rebounds a game while Chamberlain averaged four.

Chamberlain looks upcourt for Rehkow in the second half of the state semifinal game last Friday in Tacoma.
Photo by Craig Howard.

After a sluggish 3-3 start to begin the season, Rehkow said the team remained confident.

“We knew we could make a run,” he said.

Rehkow, a junior, averaged over 13 points a game this season, including a career-best 32 in a win over crosstown rival University High School at the Spokane Arena last month. Earlier this week, he was named to the All Greater Spokane League first team.

Along with their dedication to basketball, both Rehkow and Chamberlain say the Church standards they adhere to have helped in all aspects of their lives, including sports and school. They both attend seminary and are active in their respective Priest quorums.

Chamberlain hits a free throw in Central Valley’s semifinal win against Union. His shot from the line represented the margin of victory in a 53-52 quarterfinal victory over Garfield.
Photo by Craig Howard.

“It’s given me a good work ethic,” Adam said. “I know I’m not going to cheat on a test or get into other kinds of trouble.”

The Rehkows had more to celebrate at this year’s state tournament. Freddie Rehkow, Austin’s dad, led the Central Valley girls team to a second-place trophy, the school’s best state effort since 2004. McKenzie McDonald, a senior on the team, attends the Evergreen Ward in the Spokane East Stake.

The CV girls concluded the year with a 25-3 record and the Greater Spokane League regular season championship. After defeating No. 1 Mt. Rainier on a three-point shot with four seconds to go in the semifinal contest, Central Valley lost on a similar play in the title game. With time running out, Skyview of Vancouver hit a three-point basket to take the 4A crown, 46-43.

Despite the disappointment, Coach Rehkow made it a point to keep the game – and the season – in perspective.

Rehkow divides the Davis defense in last Saturday’s championship game.
Photo by Craig Howard.

“I told them that no matter what the outcome was, they are winners and when they walked out of that locker room they needed to hold their head high, go give their parents a hug and tell them they love them, and to be proud of who they were and what they had accomplished.”

Instead of dwelling on the defeat, Freddie – named Greater Spokane League Coach of the Year earlier this week – said the end of the season revolved more around honoring a stellar group of seniors.

“They’re what the game is all about,” he said, “not the wins and losses.”

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