The stage is set today for round three between Greater Spokane League girls basketball heavyweights Lewis and Clark and University.
The Tigers were 61-46 winners over Richland on Friday night. The Titans defeated Eisenhower 69-52. The victories qualified both for state, LC for the third straight year and U-Hi for the second.
Now they play at 4 p.m. today in Gonzaga University’s McCarthey Athletic Center for the championship of the ConAgra Foods/Lamb Weston 4A regional tournament.
But for a time, the prospect of a rematch appeared iffy. The valiant Bombers threatened to upset LC, wiping out a 12-point deficit and carrying the momentum behind the stellar inside effort of Lyndsee Landon, and trailed just 48-46. But the effort stalled in the final five minutes of the game.
The Tigers and Titans, both 23-1, have split their two previous meetings. Players from both teams said the third game will be fun and exciting.
“It’s a big game from the standpoint that you want the number-one seed and ideally a better (state) draw,” said U-Hi coach Mark Stinson.
Both Gonzaga Prep and Mt. Spokane are playing for state in earlier games. The Bullpups, a 56-48 winner over Kamiakin, face Ike at noon. The Wildcats, who beat Kennewick 60-42, face Richland at 2. Both games will be played in GU’s Martin Centre.
LC 61, Richland 46
When it was time for a Tiger to deliver, Heather Bowman and Briann January answered the call.
LC led 30-18 at halftime, but had been chewed up by Richland’s half-court ball movement and inside scoring right after intermission. In five minutes, the Bombers pared the deficit to 32-31.
January got the ball to Bowman for an inside basket and hit a 3-point shot 30 seconds later to increase the advantage to 37-31, and each scored before the end of the third quarter to maintain the lead.
Richland’s Kayla McKiernan and Landon, who scored 12 second-half points, brought their team right back. Then Landon was subbed for, Bowman scored three baskets in a little over a minute and January hit one more 3-point shot following a press turnover. LC was safely away.
“She’s a strong girl,” said Bowman of Landon, “and did cause problems. But we did not focus on her as much as their outside shooters.”
“Any loss is hard when it gets that close,” she said. “Knowing we did not start well makes it even more frustrating.”
LC scored the game’s first nine points and led 15-5 by hitting its first seven field-goal attempts. But 3-point shooting by Hayley McCoy and Lori Conrad kept it close until the Tigers scored the final seven points of the half for its biggest lead.
Ren Mallory scored eight important first-half points for LC.
Then the game almost got away before the Tigers’ big two took over and LC ran off the final 13 points. Bowman finished with 22 and had half her team’s second-half rebounds. January scored 18, including four 3-pointers. And the Tigers shot 58 percent from the field, 64 percent inside the arc.
“I just think they (Richland) had good inside-outside play that’s hard to cover,” LC coach Jim Redmon said. “But I thought when we needed a big basket, both players came through. I’m glad we had the challenge.”
University 69, Eisenhower 52
A pair of bursts, one in the first quarter and one in the fourth, settled this game between teams with identical 22-1 records.
U-Hi and the Cadets were tied at 4 three minutes into the game before the Titans shredded Ike’s full-court press with a couple transition baskets and three 3-pointers for a 17-4 lead.
Eisenhower never got closer than 11 points and trailed by as many as 18. But U-Hi’s ragged play through the two middle quarters kept them from completely putting the game away.
“It wasn’t a pretty game,” Stinson admitted. “But when so much is at stake, I think nerves and adrenalin take over.”
At one point in the third quarter, U-Hi turned the ball over four successive times. Then, just as suddenly, the Titans went over the top of Ike’s press for three quick baskets and ultimately led by as many as 24 before game’s end.
Angie Bjorklund was the early catalyst with 10 first-quarter points, including two of the three 3-point baskets, and added 13 more (and two more 3-pointers) in the second half. Her sister Jami had 11 of her 18 in the first half even though sitting in foul trouble at times. Other Titans, starters and subs, made clutch contributions.
“We looked over the top of their defense and were just quicker than they were,” Jami Bjorklund said of the first-quarter outburst.
“Jami always says let’s just play, and I try not to overcoach,” said Stinson.
“I let them play and they find a way to get it done.”
Gonzaga 56, Kamiakin 48
Sophomore Tara Cronin and seniors Shannon Murray and Sarah Jennings carried the offense as Prep (19-6) held the Braves (12-13) scoreless for most of the first quarter for an 11-point lead that effectively ended their season. Kamiakin did close to within a point, but the Bullpups got it back.
Mt. Spokane 60, Kennewick 42
The even quarters belonged to the Wildcats (18-7) and they lived to play another day and ended the Lions’ (17-8) season. It was a multi-pronged attack, guard Leah Pomante scored 15 points and the inside presence of Katelan Redmon, Sam Patrick and Emily Wittkopf combined for 37 more.
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