Mead junior basketball standout Delany Junkermier was in eighth grade the last time the Panthers beat the University Titans.
The lone blemish on second-ranked Mead’s record going into Greater Spokane League play Friday was put there by University.
While experiencing stretches of sloppiness and inefficiency, the visiting Panthers overcame their recent nemesis, snapping a five-game losing streak with a 51-47 decision.
“They always seem to have our number,” Junkermier said. “It’s a great matchup. We’re so equal. It feels like we have the same players. It was a great win.”
It was a much-needed win, too, allowing Mead (15-1 overall, 13-1 league) to remain tied atop the GSL with Gonzaga Prep.
The Panthers got off to a painfully slow start, missing their first seven shots while U-Hi senior Kayleigh Valley scored her team’s first five points. Mead’s first basket didn’t come until sophomore Sue Winger hit a jumper with 1 minute, 41 seconds left in the period.
In the second quarter Mead got untracked and appeared on the brink of blowing the game open.
The Panthers used an 11-0 run in the first 2:31 of the quarter to open an 18-8 lead. But a basket, two 3-pointers and two free throws by freshman Brooke Bailey pulled U-Hi (8-8, 7-7) even at 18-18 with 1:17 to go before halftime.
The teams went into intermission tied 20-20. U-Hi’s 44-43 win over Mead in mid-December had to be weighing on the Panthers’ minds.
“I kept telling them at halftime that we have to go out there and play our game,” Mead coach Quantae Anderson said. “There’s a mental block against this team and I don’t know what it is and how to get them over it.”
Junkermier did her part to lift the Panthers, scoring 12 of her team-high 17 points in the second half including making 4 of 4 foul shots in the fourth quarter.
Then in the final period, Junkermier asked Anderson if she could guard University of Montana-bound Valley.
“I just thought I’d be able to contain her,” Junkermier said.
Junkermier didn’t stop Valley – she finished with a game-high 25 points to go with seven rebounds – but she didn’t let her single-handedly beat the Panthers either.
And Junkermier combined with Winger to make the biggest defensive stop.
With 24 seconds left, Junkermier put Mead ahead at 49-47 with two free throws. Valley drove the length of the court and tried to squeeze between the two Panthers in the key. But they pinched off her penetration, and Valley’s off-balance shot with 14 seconds remaining hit the backboard but didn’t get close to the rim.
Valley made the winning basket in the first matchup.
“She’s a helluva basketball player,” Anderson said.
Gonzaga Prep 75, Ferris 61: Kayla Leland had a career night to lead the visiting Bullpups (15-1, 13-1).
Leland made 11 of 13 shots from the field, finishing with a game-high 26 points. G-Prep got all the cushion it would need by outscoring the Saxons (9-7, 7-7) 21-8 in the opening quarter.
Otiona Gildon supported Leland by scoring 19 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
Brittney Johnson and Erica Smith scored 17 apiece to lead Ferris.
Mt. Spokane 42, North Central 38: The Wildcats (11-5, 9-5) had to hold off the visiting Indians (1-15, 1-13).
The Wildcats led 25-11 at halftime, but NC used four 3-pointers to tighten up the game in the third quarter.
Brooke Reilly led Mt. Spokane with 13 points and Brianna King paced NC with 12.
Shadle Park 72, Central Valley 62: The visiting Highlanders (9-7, 8-6) dealt the Bears’ postseason hopes a serious blow.
The Highlanders used a big third quarter, outscoring CV (7-9, 5-9) 26-12.
Kaycee Hert led Shadle with 24 points, Morgan Grier had 19 including two big 3-pointers in the third and Winter Hayes added 15.
Madison Hovren led CV with a game-high 30 points and Mariah Cunningham had 18.
Lewis and Clark 66, Rogers 12: The Tigers (7-9, 7-7) got out to a 23-4 start and never looked back against the visiting Pirates (1-15, 0-14).
Taylor Howlett led LC with 13 points, Michaela Kay had 11 and Lindsay Lee added 10.