Losing the final two regular-season basketball games, to Greater Spokane League champion Lewis and Clark and third-place Shadle Park, wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for Mead.
“You learn a lot from games you lose,” Panthers coach Regan Drew said. “We knew the areas that needed to be better.”
Those areas – defense, rebounding and patience – paid dividends in a 64-44 victory over visiting Central Valley on Tuesday night in the first round of District 8 4A girls basketball playoffs.
The victory advances Mead (17-4) to the championship game of the playoffs at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at LC (21-0), a 54-35 victor at home against University. The game will decide the GSL’s No. 1 berth to regional.
CV’s Bears (14-7) and the U-Hi Titans (12-10) meet at CV at the same time for a chance at the second regional berth.
By being patient, Mead got better shots against CV. The result was five first-half 3-pointers that provided separation.
Tifa Puletasi took care of rebounding with 13, with Jazmine Redmon and Alisa Beard providing backing.
By playing improved defense, the Panthers turned a five-point halftime lead into one that would double in the third quarter and grow late in the game.
Redmon, meanwhile, ratcheted up her offensive game. She scored three baskets in the third quarter as Mead’s lead went from 31-27 to 45-33. She and Taylor Ingebritsen hit 3-pointers – Mead finished with nine for the game – and she had 13 of her team-high 19 points in the second half.
“I just didn’t want to lose again,” Redmon said. “We want to go back to regionals.”
CV led 5-4 in the first quarter before Heidi Lague, Beard (twice) and Ingebritsen connected from beyond the arc for an 18-12 first-quarter lead.
The Bears caught up at 22 on the work of freshman Brooke Gallaway, who finished with a game-high 20, and Brittany Catron.
But Marissa Toennis hit a 3-pointer and Mead never trailed again.
“Their experience and a couple trips (by CV) made the difference,” Bears coach Freddie Rehkow said. “We missed shots we made the last time we played them. Mead played well.”
Ingebritsen, who got off to a slow shooting start, heated up and finished with 15 points, including three 3-pointers. Lague had another, coming with 5 minutes, 50 seconds left in the game after CV cut the lead to 47-40. Mead outscored CV 17-4 thereafter.
“Defensively, it was just the intensity,” Drew said. “And we worked the ball and were more patient. When they take their time, we have girls who can make baskets.”
Lewis and Clark 54, University 36: The Tigers took control early, leading 16-3 after one quarter, and the visiting Titans never recovered. LC’s lead was 38-16 at the half and, though they would finish with 31 turnovers, U-Hi couldn’t take advantage. Emily Travis scored a season-high 17 points, hitting four 3s, and Nakia Arquette had 10, with two 3s. Sarah Kliewer had 17 rebounds and Daisy Burke six assists. Chenise Pakootas paced U-Hi with 12 points. The victory improved LC’s winning streak, dating to the 2007 State 4A tournament, to 54 games. The all-time girls state record is 56, shared by three teams, including Central Valley.