Sue Winger may be a sophomore, but the Mead basketball player has the savvy of a seasoned veteran.
Winger used her long arms to steal a deep inbounds pass and alertly fed a pass ahead to breaking teammate Delany Junkermier, who was intentionally fouled going to the basket.
Junkermier made both free throws to lift the Panthers to a 51-47 victory over visiting Gonzaga Prep on Thursday and their first Greater Spokane League championship in 13 years.
Now the teams turn around and play Saturday for the District 8 championship, returning to Mead. Tipoff is at 6.
Moments before Winger’s steal, Gonzaga Prep pulled even at 47-47 when guard Hannah Caudill made a running bank shot.
Then as No. 1-ranked Panthers (19-1 overall, 17-1 league) tried to inbound the ball, they were called for a violation, giving the ball back to the Bullpups (18-2, 16-2).
After a timeout, the Bullpups had difficulty entering the ball and that’s when Winger got her steal.
“We knew we needed a big stop,” Winger said. “My teammates were playing excellent defense and they forced the overhead pass. They made it easy.”
Jade Redmon added two free throws for the final margin.
It was a game in which Mead asserted control in the first quarter. After the Panthers opened a 12-4 lead, G-Prep pulled within 12-10 before a 3-pointer and jumper from Winger allowed Mead to close the period with a 17-10 lead.
Mead used a 12-5 surge to build its biggest lead at 29-15 late in the second quarter. But the Bullpups charged back, using a 12-4 run of their own to close the gap to 33-27 by halftime.
The momentum carried over in the third quarter for the Bullpups. After Mead scored the first basket, G-Prep ran off 12 straight points for a 39-35 lead. Mead regained the lead when Morgan Douglass hit a 3-pointer, and the Panthers led 42-39 going into the final period.
G-Prep never led in the fourth, but the game stayed tight until the end.
“It means so much,” Winger said of the league title. “I’m so happy for our seniors.”
Winger said the key Saturday will be limiting turnovers. The Panthers had 19 on Thursday.
Junkermier led Mead with 15 points. Winger had 14 to go with six rebounds and two steals. Ashlyn Lewey had 13 rebounds.
Laura Stockton led G-Prep with 17 points and Caudill and Otiona Gildon had 10 each. Gildon also had seven rebounds.
Mead coach Quantae Anderson was pleased to see Winger assert herself offensively and defensively.
“We want her to take a more aggressive role on offense,” Anderson said. “She’s such a selfless player. … But she’s such a mismatch for teams. … At halftime we told her we wanted her to come up big in the second half. She did a wonderful job, and that steal was huge. To have the wherewithal to throw the ball ahead was big.”
The Panthers captured the league title in Anderson’s second year.
“It’s not about me it’s about those girls,” Anderson said. “I inherited some really good basketball players.”
Lewis and Clark 68, Ferris 45: The Tigers (9-11, 9-9) earned the No. 3 seed by stopping the Saxons (10-10, 8-10) coupled with Central Valley’s loss. LC took control with big second and third quarters in which it outscored the Saxons 46-32. Emma Keenan led LC with 18 points and eight rebounds, Riley Lupfer had 15 points and Michaela Kay had 12. Kaley Lenhart and Brittney Johnson had 12 points each for Ferris.
Mt. Spokane 61, Central Valley 45: The Wildcats (12-8, 10-8) opened a 35-25 lead in the first half and never looked back against the visiting Bears (10-10, 8-10). The Wildcats, who broke a three-game losing streak, finished in a three-way tie for the top 3A seed with University and Shadle Park. Mt. Spokane receives the top seed, U-Hi gets the second and Shadle third. CV is host to Ferris tonight in a tiebreaker to decide the fourth seed to district in 4A. Tipoff is at 5.
Megan Ulias led Mt. Spokane with 17 points and three steals and Brooke Reilly had 15 points and eight rebounds. Madison Hovren led CV with 27 points.
North Central 61, Rogers 37: The visiting Indians (2-18, 2-16) opened a 20-6 lead in the first quarter and had control thereafter. Brianna King led NC with 18 points, Avery Smith had 11 and Lauren Hare added 10. Talia Felice led Rogers (1-19, 0-18) with 17 points.
University 71, Shadle Park 69: Kayleigh Valley scored the final five points as the Titans (11-9, 10-8) held off a late rally by the visiting Highlanders (11-9, 10-8). Valley finished with a game-high 32 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists. Shadle outscored U-Hi 23-12 in the fourth quarter and took a lead with 2:03 left before Valley took over. Kendra Winchester led Shadle with 19 points and eight rebounds and Winter Hayes had 17 points.