St. George's Seeks Perfection and Another 2B Title - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

St. George's Seeks Perfection and Another 2B Title

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The St. George's boy's basketball team will attempt to repeat as the 2B State Champs this weekend at the Spokane Arena. The St. George's boy's basketball team will attempt to repeat as the 2B State Champs this weekend at the Spokane Arena.
There is a clear-cut favorite heading into the 2014 Washington Interscholastic Activities Association boys basketball 2B State Championships at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena starting this Thursday, March 6.

St. George’s is an undefeated defending state champion that has a trio of senior players who could compete in any classification, luckily for the Dragons they just happen to reign over B basketball with an air befitting their mascot.

Erik Muelheims, Dexter Sienko and Will Tender were a major part of last season’s first-ever state championship winning team as juniors and can remember the special experience that was winning the 2B crown.

“I remember as a little kid always sitting up in the stands and watching the other players, and kind of never really imagined that we could get there, but we still always had that goal off in the back of our heads,” Tender said. “It was just really nice to see all of that hard work pay off.”

Click here for SWX's full State B broadcast schedule: http://bit.ly/1q8ZfSb

This year St. George’s has swept past the competition en route to a perfect 27-0 season heading into the State B tournament.

“I think with this group, a lot of these kids grew up playing together,” head coach Ryan Peplinski said. “There’s a good portion of them from the same AAU team as fourth graders, Cody (Peplinski) as a third grader. Dex (Sienko) came in fifth grade and he actually did not make a couple of the teams he tried out for, so he’s worked really hard. The AAU group we have, I think lost the first game to a group of Ferris kids 54-4, or something like that.”

When Peplinski looks back he sees just how far his players have come and he believes the accomplishments they have and are still trying to achieve are justified.

“To come full circle and work hard enough to win a state championship and also have some kids recruited (to colleges), it is a testament to how hard they’ve worked,” Peplinski said.

On any given night one of these three can lead their team in scoring. Just like Will Tender did with his 28 in the win over Tri-Cities Prep in the Regional round last weekend.

“It has just been really fun,” Tender said. “We’re really clicking this year and getting everyone involved. I feel like we’re really playing really well. Our defense sets our tone.”

Having a 6-foot-6 center who can send home a slam dunk and get the crowd on their feet with ease doesn’t hurt either.

“I think I’ve gone maybe two games without dunking this year,” Sienko said. Not just the crowd but our team mindset changes I think when I get a dunk we’re more aggressive and we’re more excited and amped up for the rest of the game.”

But for this team it is about taking it one game at a time, never mind the fact that the Dragons have won 47 straight dating back to Dec. 27, 2012, when they lost to Pullman… a 2A school.

“It’s a great run,” Peplinski said. “I was asked a couple days ago what our streak was at and I didn’t know.”

The players take the example of their coach and play each game as if they haven’t won as many as they have over the course of the past two seasons.

“I think for us its just taking it one game at a time making sure we don’t get too carried away with our success so far,” Sienko said. “I think looking too close to our success would be a problem, if we analyzed that too much. I think we just kind of take it one game at a time and just keep a humble mindset.”

The Dragons may be humble, but that won’t distract them from their goal of repeating as the 2B champs when they play Mossyrock in the first day of competition at the Spokane Arena.

“We’ve put in so much work the past few off seasons, lifting weights and trying to take our game to the next level,” said Tender. “Doing it again with this group of guys would be awesome.”

Sienko shares the sentiment and believes a win in the final game this year would mean just as much to this year’s team.

“It would feel really good to leave the school with back-to-back state championships,” Sienko said. “I think that our group can definitely do that and I think it would mean a lot for the school and for all of the students if we were able to do that.”

Tender believes the Dragons have the same hunger and drive to see out the task of winning another title.

“This year we’ve really tried to bring that same hunger and desire to repeat, as the first time. And I’d say by far its still the same drive, if not stronger than last year’s”

The road to repeat as champions will not be an easy one for St. George’s, and its head coach knows that will be true.

“It would be a culmination of a great career for a lot of the kids,” said Peplinski. “Its pretty special to win that (the championship). It’s really hard. My first year here we took second and you’re young and dumb and think that’s what should always happen but its tougher now. You’re getting eight really good teams, there aren’t any soft games any more, so it’s pretty special.”

While Peplinski and his squad know the road won’t be easy. They’re confident their hard work will see them through.

“The kids I have are so competitive and I think the coaching staff is too,” Peplinski said. “Everybody works really hard, and not that other teams don’t, but we feel like were not going to be outworked.”

When all is said and done, the mindset for the Dragons hasn’t faltered, and it won’t in the State B Championship Tournament this weekend.

“We want to end the season undefeated,” Tender said. “That’s our goal.”

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