The Hull family has a long tradition of success at Central Valley, including father, Jason, and grandfather, John, who passed away from cancer in 2012. Pictured above, clockwise from bottom left, are Jason, Lacie, Cheryl, John, Lexie and Jaime Hull.
By Mike Vlahovich
The apple, the saying goes, doesn't fall far from the tree. And in the case of Central Valley basketball, three generations of one family branch has produced extraordinary fruit.
It is a story at once chock-full of success tempered with a tinge of sorrow.
John Hull, the progenitor, did his All-City part during the Bears 1960s mini-dynasty that placed between second and eighth in four successive state tournaments. He and wife Cheryl's three sons - led by Jason and including his fraternal twin Chad and older brother Mark - played together for CV teams that spanned three varsity seasons through 1990, and also included a state placer.
Now it is Jason's twin daughters' turn. Freshmen Lexie and Lacie became instant cogs on this year's Bears' girls post-season qualifier.
Sadly, John was unable to witness his granddaughters' accomplishments, a fact that brought both Cheryl and Jason to tears while recounting the story. He died from cancer in 2012.
"He would have enjoyed watching them so much," Cheryl said. "When these girls were born, he was beside himself. He thought the sun rose and set on them."
Jason added, "He always wanted to talk about the girls. I knew what he'd miss was not being able to watch them at this level this early. He was pretty intent on being supportive of his granddaughters."
John and Cheryl met on a blind date when they were seniors in high school. The year before she had been a cheerleader at West Valley and he played on CV's sixth-place finishing team when both schools qualified for state in 1962. The Bears reached the state semifinals and all their losses that year were by a single point.
The next year Hull, who by then had grown to 6-foot-5, was CV's second leading scorer on a fifth-place state finisher, the team losing just four times during his varsity career. He would go on to play at Western Washington University. He and Cheryl married and later returned to the Spokane Valley from Wisconsin, with three toddlers, a year apart, in tow, to be closer to family.
He would change careers, and she would eventually begin a 30-year teaching career at Bowdish Middle School and they settled in the Ponderosa where the boys would learn basketball in a neighborhood cul-de-sac and hone their game.
"I played with them two-on-two in the street," Cheryl recalled. "If John had a meeting or something (in youth ball) I would do practice. I'd play with them and it was fine until sixth grade and then it got too rough."
They eventually found themselves attending dad's alma mater where then-CV coach Terry Irwin and John had been teammates.
Jason, 6-5 like his dad, made varsity as a sophomore in 1988 and was one of the team's leading scorers off the bench when the Kevin Stocker, Mark Arland-led Bears finished fourth in state.
"That was really fun," Cheryl said. "Lu Stocker and I were the laundry women. No one was assigned to wash the uniforms. We'd go to the laundromat and talk about the games."
The next year, he, Mark, then a senior, and Chad would at times find themselves on the court at the same time. "That was pretty cool," Jason said.
Especially so for the proud parents. "Jason passed to Chad, Chad to Mark, Mark to Jason. I don't know what I would have done if one of them would have hated playing basketball," Cheryl said.
Jason took it the farthest. He was remarkably consistent at CV, scoring 247 points as a sophomore, 256 as a junior and 246 as a senior in the Greater Spokane League. His career total 997 is second overall in Central Valley history.
He became a four-year starter at Whitworth, missing only three games and averaging 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds for his careers. His 1,348 points are ninth career for the Pirates and he is 12th career in rebounding.
"I wanted to stick around," said the admitted homebody and Whitworth was the perfect fit. "I was All-District my junior and senior years and honorable mention All-America. It worked out good."
He met his wife Jaime nearly 20 years ago and their twin daughters are continuing the Hull legacy. The freshmen got their height from their dad and granddad. Each stands 6-1 and resembles John.
"Oh my gosh," Jason said. "I saw some old pictures from my mom. Dad and their body types are exactly the same, real lean. I told people I was lean. He was leaner; definitely a string bean. They're the spitting image."
But the two have their differences. Despite her height, Lacie has been a point guard since third grade, her dad said, and would rather pass than shoot. Not that she can't shoot. Lacie has scored in double figures in nearly half of CV's games. He said she's more introverted than her sister.
Lexie plays inside, uses her length to good advantage and prefers the physicality of the game. Through 22 games she was averaging nearly 13 points including a pair of 21-point outbursts during the playoffs.
"There's a long line of competitive people in our family," Jason Hull said in something of an understatement. "They get their competitiveness probably more from each other than from me or their mother."
As for grandma, it's been refreshing to cheer for girls after all those years chasing after her boys.
"Boys are just different," Cheryl Hull said. "Grandkids are where it's at."