Mead had not played in a girls District 8 basketball championship, nor had it defeated Lewis and Clark since Regan Drew became head coach.
The Panthers accomplished the former with their first-round playoff victory on Tuesday. Thursday night at LC, they made that first appearance a memorable one, winning the District 8 4A title with a 59-57 victory over the Tigers for the Greater Spokane League’s top seed to next week’s Eastern regional tournament.
The victory assures a home game Tuesday against the Columbia Basin Big Nine’s No. 4 team. As a bonus, the Panthers ended one of the longest winning streaks in state history by weathering LC’s late comeback. The Tigers had entered the game with 54 straight wins, two behind the state record shared by three teams.
“I’m just excited for the girls,” Drew said of her first title as coach. “At the beginning of the season there were a lot of question marks about the team. I believed in them 110 percent and they came every day and worked hard.”
Early in the game, Mead shredded LC’s full-court pressure for easy baskets and borrowed from the formula that worked in Tuesday’s win, making judicious use of the 3-pointer.
Three players scored from beyond the arc and the Panthers led by as many as nine points in the first quarter.
LC had a terrible shooting night, but whenever it mustered points, Mead had an answer. The lead was cut to three points early in the second quarter on Emily Travis’ steal and layin. It was the only field goal of the quarter for the Tigers and Mead went back ahead 27-17, even with rebounding standout Tifa Puletasi on the bench in foul trouble.
It was a lead the Panthers maintained, but the Tigers made a rally with fewer than 5 minutes to play.
Daisy Burke, LC’s point guard, scored eight points and the Tigers closed within 52-50. Jazmine Redmon scored five points to put the Panthers back up by six points with 45 seconds remaining.
A Travis 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining cut the lead to 58-57. But Alisa Beard, who scored a game-high 16 points, hit a free throw before two Tigers shots rimmed off at game’s end.
“We’ve wanted this all season long,” said Puletasi, who scored 13 points and had nearly as many rebounds. “We finally got the win when it counted most. I’m so happy, it’s amazing.”
The Tigers host Central Valley at 5:30 tonight for the second berth to regional and game at the site of the CBBN’s No. 3 team.
“Lewis and Clark is an outstanding team,” Drew said. “There’s a lot of season left and they’ll be a huge part of it.”
Central Valley 56, University 47: Loree Hill came off the bench to spark the host Bears (15-7). Twice they trailed by eight points in the first half before taking a 25-24 halftime lead on Kelsey Matthews’ 3-pointer. Hall scored 12 fourth-quarter points on midrange jump shots and layins. She finished with 14 and Matthews, with three 3-pointers, had 10. Zoe Scott scored 17 for the Titans (12-11), whose season ended.
District 8 3A
Shadle Park 45, East Valley 28: With their methodical victory, the Highlanders (17-5) earned a first-round bye as GSL top seed to next week’s regional tournament and don’t play until 2 p.m. on Feb. 28 at Rogers. They held the visiting Knights (11-11) to 10 first-half points and led 39-17 after three quarters. Bianca Pope scored 11 points and had eight rebounds, Chelsea Chandler also had eight rebounds. EV hosts GSL No. 4 North Central at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the first round of the regional.
Mt. Spokane 59, North Central 36: Sophomore Sammie Peterson scored 16 points to lead the host Wildcats (8-14) to third place in region and a trip against the Columbia Basin Big Nine No. 2 finisher on Tuesday. Pressure defense produced numerous turnovers and a 19-5 second-quarter advantage that put Mt. Spokane in charge. Guard Averi Hallman added 12 points.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.