When the Region team attempted to run, the collective eyes of the Metro team lit up.
That played right into one of Metro’s strengths. Metro’s other key asset was defense.
Region rallied to stay close in the first half, but Metro used its strengths to pull away in the second half to a 95-79 decision in the 18th Jack Blair Memorial girls basketball game Wednesday at Lake City High School.
It’s the 17th time Metro has won.
“They sped up the game a little bit, which I was surprised about,” Gonzaga Prep senior Tia Presley said. “We were all about running the whole game so that helped that they were willing to run, too. It worked to our advantage and caught up with them in the end.”
The Washington State University-bound Presley, who set the Greater Spokane League scoring record this year, led Metro with 23 points. She was named the most valuable player.
“It’s a good way to go out,” Presley said. “I didn’t want to go out as a senior losing. It’s nice that everyone stepped up so we could get a win for all the seniors on the team.”
Presley had a lot of help. Shadle Park junior Aleisha Hathaway had 13 points, Mead senior Taylor Ingebritsen had 11 and North Central senior Riley Holsinger had 10.
Metro threatened to blow open the game in the first half, jumping out to a 23-12 lead. But Region, behind Clarkston junior Jamie Weisner, fought back to within 43-40 in the closing seconds of the first half before Ingebritsen got inside for an easy basket with 3 seconds to go before intermission.
A basket by Coeur d’Alene junior Kyeli Parker pulled Region within 63-58 with 9:40 remaining. But Metro went on a 13-3 run as it pulled away.
Weisner, who was named the game’s most inspirational player, finished with a game-high 28 points.
“We couldn’t stop them,” Weisner said. “We’d go on a run, but they’d go on a bigger run.”
Presley and Weisner are good friends, having played together for about six years on the same AAU team. Presley hopes to recruit Weisner to WSU. Weisner said WSU, Washington, Oregon State, Arizona State and Gonzaga are recruiting her.
“I can’t say enough good things about her,” Presley said of Weisner. “I hope we can get her down to WSU. I’m working on it.”
NC coach Gabe Medrano coached Metro. He said the team stuck to the game plan.
“We had some defensive strategy that we put in and we talked about helping and talking to one another and making sure we helped on the bigs,” Medrano said. “We came out in the second half and pushed it to double digits and kept it right there the rest of the game. In the end, we were able to blow it open a little bit with our speed and quickness.”
Hathaway said Metro was determined to take control in the second half.
“We’re just really competitive and we didn’t want to lose,” Hathaway said. “We focused on defense and were more patient on offense in the second half. In the first half we were rushing it and taking the first shot.”