The Mead girls basketball team has four starters listed at 6-feet or taller. The way they shot the basketball, their size advantage over Gonzaga Prep proved almost irrelevant.
The Panther “bigs” knocked down eight 3-pointers in 15 attempts, the difference-maker in a 68-63 triumph Friday evening at Prep, tying them with the Bullpups (both are 10-1 overall and 8-1 in league) for first place in the Greater Spokane League.
Coach Quantae Anderson said the barrage wasn’t necessarily planned. “Initially we want to get out and run,” he said.
But that is Gonzaga’s game, too, and with size mismatches of roughly 4 inches per player, shooting the 3 seemed like the right thing to do. And Mead’s shots beyond the arc came at opportune times.
In the first half, the Panthers broke a 9-9 tie, Mackenzie McPhee going 4 of 4 from long range in the first quarter for a 20-13 lead. Ashlyn Lewey opened the second quarter with a fifth that pushed the lead back to seven points.
McPhee, daughter of former Gonzaga University standout Jim McPhee, said she wasn’t being guarded out front so, “I don’t know, I just decided to shoot. I think I was trying to channel him when I was shooting the 3s. I thought, ‘Dad, give me some of your genes right now.’ “
The Bullpups ripped off the first eight points of the second half to take a brief lead, but Mead rallied, punctuated by Lewey’s second long 3-pointer as time ran out in the third quarter to stay six points ahead.
In the fourth quarter, it was Delany Junkermier’s turn as bombardier. She put down back-to-back 3s, giving her team a 61-45 lead. The Panthers weathered Prep’s torrid finish in the last 3:36 when it closed within four points before running out of time.
“If we’re not running, we’re looking for mismatches,” Anderson explained. “They do something and we have to do something. We really do like to get the ball inside, but (the 3s) were huge.”
Ironically, the shortest player in Mead’s lineup, 5-9 Jade Redmon, did most of the posting and got the lion’s share of her 13 points at the line as a result. The Panthers quartet divided up 55 points, led by Junkermier’s 17.
The Bullpups’ speed produced most of their scoring in transition by Laura Stockton, who had 19 points, and Hannah Caudill, the second-half catalyst, scoring 13 of her 17. Prep’s lone 6-foot inside presence, Otiona Gildon, also had 17 points, the trio scoring all but 10 of their team’s total.
“Prep is such a good team, once they go on a run, you have to stop it as soon as possible,” McPhee said.
Mead’s size advantage was evident on defense. Ultimately, it became tough for Prep to get inside.
“To come in here and win against a team that’s on a roll,” Anderson said, “it’s one of my favorite wins as a coach, ever.”
University 54, Shadle Park 44: The key to the Titans’ victory over the host Highlanders (both 6-5, 5-4) was the 3-point shooting by a pair of freshmen who accounted for 30 points. Brooke Bailey hit six from long range and Kaitlin Pannell knocked down four. All told they combined for 38 points while Kayleigh Valley contributed 12 rebounds and nine assists. Shadle’s Kaycee Hert scored 15.
Central Valley 57, Mt. Spokane 51: A 19-7 second quarter propelled the host Bears (5-6, 3-6). The “Three Ms” – Molly Barnhart, Mariah Cunningham and Madison Hovren – combined for 37 points. Additionally, Hovren added seven rebounds and six steals. The Wildcats (6-5, 4-5) got 18 points from Brooke Reilly.
North Central 54, Rogers 37: After a four-point game at the half, the host Indians (1-10, 1-8) took charge in the third quarter against the Pirates (1-10, 0-9). Avery Smith scored 19 points as one of three double-figures scorers. Megan Dean had 11 points, 12 rebounds, five steals and three blocked shots. Brianna King scored 12.