There aren’t going to be many nights in which 6-foot-8 Tyson Degenhart has to look up at an opponent. Friday night was one of the rare exceptions.
Degenhart, the returning junior and All-Greater Spokane League selection, faced off against 7-1 Conner Turner of West Valley (Yakima).
Degenhart set the tone early, going right at the big man often in the first quarter, and finished with 31 points and seven rebounds to lead Mt. Spokane over the Rams 82-58 in the Dan Fitzgerald Memorial Tournament at Ferris.
Mt. Spokane will face St. Ignatius (California) in the tourney final on Saturday.
Kobe Simpson scored 11 points and JoJo Anderson added 10 for the Wildcats (2-0).
James Dorsett led West Valley (1-1) with 14 points and Logan Kinloch added 10. Turner had six points and five blocked shots.
“It’s always a challenge. I enjoy it,” Degenhart said about going against a bigger opponent. “You know, it’s a different type of game. Rather than having smaller posts, we gotta spread the floor a little bit more to keep them out of the paint, let our guards attack the basket.”
“I think we’ve got a lot to work on defensively,” Mt. Spokane coach David Wagenblast said. “We’re going to watch film and get a chance to really try and clean some things up. But obviously the boys did a good job of having a point of emphasis of getting the ball to Tyson, and he did a great job of finishing tonight and that really spurred us to a nice lead.”
The Wildcats went right to work against Turner, feeding Degenhart just about every trip down in the first couple of minutes. Degenhart scored 13 in the first quarter – all within 5 feet – and the Wildcats led 24-13 after one.
Degenhart, who has committed to Boise State, grew more visibly fired up with every basket.
“As a leader this year, you have to motivate the other guys and that’s one way I can do it, just lead by example,” he said. “Just playing with high intensity and high energy.”
Degenhart got loose for a fastbreak dunk early in the second to push the lead to 13. Simpson’s 3-pointer a little later made it 39-21 with just over 2 minutes to go in the half. With the Rams triple-teaming Degenhart in the paint, Conner Marll drilled a 3 to make it a 19-point game.
Degenhart had 10 in the quarter, and the Wildcats led 44-27 at intermission.
“(Degenhart) is very, very skilled,” Wagenblast said. “So even though going against 7-1 is a chore, he did great. He just attacked him and he was relentless.”
Mitch Stengle made it a 20-point game with a 3 early in the third. Degenhart made a strip and layup, then JoJo Anderson stole the inbound pass and dropped it in. Mt. Spokane went up 53-29 with 5:40 left in the quarter.
Degenhart came out with a couple of minutes left in the quarter, but the Rams couldn’t get any traction. Trayce Atkins hit a 3-pointer, Kilo Simpson scored inside and the Wildcats led 65-42 after three.
The lead hit 30 with 3 minutes left on a spinning layup by Caleb Wallace.
Ferris 58, St. Ignatius 55: Nathan Hocking scored 15 points and the host Saxons beat the Wildcats in the late game at The Fitz. Jackson Floyd added 11 points for Ferris, while Malcolm McCray-Hill led St. Ignatius with 11 points.
Ferris (2-0) led 54-48 late, but the Wildcats (1-2) went on a seven-point run to take the lead. Zach Fleming’s basket stopped the run, McCoy Spink made a pair at the line with 7.5 seconds left and then swatted St. Ignatius’ last-second 3-point attempt.
Around the league
University 89, Moses Lake 73: Conrad Bippes scored 16 points and the Titans (1-0) defeated the visiting Chiefs (0-2) in a nonleague game. Kyle Karstetter led Moses Lake with 15 points.
Richland 67, Lewis and Clark 66: William McClelland scored 16 points and the visiting Bombers (1-0) beat the Tigers (0-1) in a nonleague game. Joel Zylak led LC with 19 points.
Central Valley 88, Eisenhower 64: Jayce Simmons scored 20 points, Noah Sanders add 16 and the Bears (2-0) beat the visiting Cadets (0-3). Abram Fernandez scored 19 points for Eisenhower.
Mead 72, Eastmont 69: Tyson Rogalette scored 22 points and the Panthers (2-0) beat the visiting Wildcats (1-1) in a nonleague game. Isaac Wellborn led Eastmont with 30 points.
Coeur d’Alene 61, Rogers 37: Luke McLaughlin scored 13 points and the Vikings (1-4) beat the Pirates (0-1) in a nonleague game. Evan Nomee led Rogers with 11 points.
Pullman 47, North Central 41: Evan Strong scored 16 points with four 3-pointers and the Greyhounds (1-0) defeated the visiting Indians (0-1) in a nonleague game. Ayden Barnufsky led NC with 13 points.
Sandpoint 65, Shadle Park 58: Kobe Banks scored 22 points and the Bulldogs (1-1) defeated the visiting Highlanders (1-2) in a nonleague game. Denham Kehr led Shadle Park with 19 points.