MOSES LAKE — Tonight at the DeVries Activity Center will be a homecoming, of sorts, for three Columbia Basin ballplayers.
Jessica Olson, Cesar Sandoval and JR Delgado wowed crowds in Moses Lake and Warden, but will return tonight on the visitor’s sideline as members of the Spokane Sasquatch.
Olson and Delgado are freshmen while Sandoval is in his sophomore year.
After helping Moses Lake High School finish fifth at the Class 4A state tournament in 2017 alongside Division I prospects Jamie Loera and Abby Rathbun, Olson has blossomed into Spokane’s leading scorer. Olson’s 18.1 points per game ranks 10th in the NWAC.
“I feel that my role here at Spokane is different than in high school,” she said. “Here they need me to be more aggressive to score. I also played with some great players in high school that helped me prepare for Spokane.”
Olson isn’t the only MLHS grad that will take the court tonight during the women’s game. Former Chief Maggie Strom is a reserve for Big Bend.
“I’m looking forward to playing in front of my friends and family,” Olson said. “I love being able to see Maggie, but it is weird playing against her when I have played basketball with her my whole life.”
Tonight’s match-up has major playoff implications.
Big Bend is 5-5 and trails North Idaho by one in the loss column for the fourth and final NWAC Tournament berth. Spokane is 3-7 but got the best of Big Bend in the first meeting on Jan. 10, 69-61. Olson put together an all-around game of 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and one block.
“My transition has been smooth,” she said. “I have a great support system here with my coaches and teammates. I’m really enjoying it.”
Sandoval and Delgado have the Spokane men tied for second in the NWAC East at 7-3. Big Bend sits in sixth place at 5-5.
Sandoval and Delgado played together sparingly during high school, but have grown close at the collegiate level and now room together.
“Throughout this season he (Sandoval) has really took me under his wing and keeping my mindset right reminding me that my time will come, just have to be patient,” Delgado said. “We have a pretty good relationship now and are always laughing, cracking jokes with each other.”
Sandoval is the leading scorer for the men’s team, pouring in 19.2 points per game in addition to grabbing seven rebounds per game. Delgado averages five points per game off the bench.
“Here at Spokane I’m not the guy I was in high school, but I’ve adjusted pretty well, I think,” Delgado said. “I’m about the sixth or seventh man coming off the bench depending on the game. Yes, it’s tough at times, but I am always ready when my number is called.”
Spokane won its previous meeting with Big Bend 109-81; Sandoval scored a team-high 25 points and Delgado added five points, three assists and three rebounds in 22 minutes.
“I’m a little nervous about coming back and playing, but it’s going to be great to see a lot of my own people,” Delgado said. “Should feel right at home, just without the Warden jersey on.”
The women’s game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. with the men’s tipping shortly after.