From Gonzaga Prep girls basketball coach Mike Arte’s vantage point, his team’s third loss to Mead in as many games followed a similar pattern.
Mead opened a big lead, the Bullpups closed the gap and the Panthers held Gonzaga Prep off in the end.
The No. 1-ranked Panthers overwhelmed the visiting Bullpups before settling for a 69-56 victory in the District 8 4A championship game Saturday.
“All three games with them has been the same exact way,” Arte said. “They’re good. They’re tall, lanky, athletic, shoot the ball well. Give them credit.”
Mead (20-1) advances to face Mid-Columbia Conference top seed Chiawana (16-6) in a winner-to-state game Friday in Pasco.
Gonzaga Prep (18-3) plays host to Lewis and Clark (10-11) in an elimination game Tuesday. The winner travels to MCC second seed Walla Walla (18-4) on Friday.
LC eliminated Ferris (11-11) 63-48.
Mead 69, Gonzaga Prep 56: The Panthers’ size and balance was too much for the Bullpups to overcome.
Making matters worse is when G-Prep’s lone size – post Otiona Gildon – gets into foul trouble, as she’s wont to do, the Bullpups get shorter in a hurry.
Mead used a 9-0 spurt to open its first cushion in the first quarter at 16-4.
In the second period, G-Prep came roaring back, going on a 13-2 surge to tie the score at 23-23 with 2:30 to go before halftime. But Mead closed the half with an 8-4 run for a 31-27 lead.
Things got away for G-Prep in the third. The Panthers’ 13-2 surge, capped by Morgan Douglass’ 3-pointer, extended the lead to 51-32 with 1:15 to go before the fourth.
If there’s one constant with the Bullpups is no matter the score there’s no quit in them. They fought back, and a basket by Gildon with 3:18 remaining pulled them within 59-54.
Mead finished with a 10-2 run.
Sophomore Sue Winger, continuing her recent hot games, led Mead with 15 points. She also had five rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots. Senior Jade Redmon had 14 points, six rebounds and two assists, junior Ashlyn Lewey had 13 points and eight rebounds and junior Delany Junkermier had 11 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Mead outrebounded G-Prep 35-26.
Despite spending much time on the bench in foul trouble, Gildon, a sophomore, finished with a game-high 17 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore Laura Stockton had 15 points and five rebounds.
Redmon relished the district title – two days after the Panthers secured the league title.
“This was our goal all year long,” said Redmon, who was the first to cut a strand out of the net. “We wanted to come out here and not let up. We wanted to get them good one last final time.”
Mead coach Quantae Anderson said he rarely looks at the scoreboard during a game. So he didn’t know that his team’s biggest lead was 19 points. He finally looked up with about 4 minutes to go as G-Prep was making its final run.
He liked what he saw.
“We get out, they fight back and we pushed ahead again,” Anderson said.
Lewey likes where the Panthers are headed.
“What makes us so successful is how we work together as a team,” Lewey said.
Lewis and Clark 63, Ferris 48: The Tigers took control in the second half, outscoring the visiting Saxons 39-29.
Freshman Riley Lupfer led LC with 15 points and Lindsay Lee had 13. Emma Keenan had eight rebounds and Joelle Tampien had four assists.
Abby Liss led Ferris with 18 points.