Mike Arte says his State 4A defending champion Gonzaga Prep girls basketball team has a long way to go before its final destination.
If he’s talking about the Tacoma Dome, well his Bullpups know the way.
If Arte is talking about the final product he’d like to take to Tacoma, well he might have a point there.
The Bullpups shook off a slow start before blowing past the visiting Lewis and Clark Tigers 70-55 in a season and Greater Spokane League opener Tuesday for both teams.
For the final 3 1/2 quarters, the Bullpups looked no different than the team that cruised to a state championship last year, ending the season on a 23-game winning streak.
Lewis and Clark had G-Prep’s attention early as the Tigers, now under new management with former Lewis and Clark State College and Idaho men’s basketball coach George Pfeifer prowling the sidelines, got out to a 17-7 lead.
The Bullpups reeled back some poor shot selection and started taking advantage of their size advantage inside – specifically 6-foot Oregon-bound Otiona Gildon.
Gildon finished with a game-high 31 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots. The other half of the Bullpups’ dynamic duo – Laura Stockton, who is headed to Gonzaga where her dad John played years ago – had 18 points and six assists.
The 1-2 punch was too much for the smaller Tigers to counter.
It took G-Prep a while, though, to wrest control.
A rebound basket by Gildon gave G-Prep its first lead at 27-26 with 2:33 to go before halftime.
G-Prep got the margin to 35-30 when Stockton completed a three-point play, made two free throws and got an assist on an and-one finish by Gildon.
In the second half, the Bullpups put on a clinic.
“We were just rushing shots and taking shots out of context for what we can do,” Arte said of the slow start. “We want to transition but we don’t want to take bad shots in transition. Once we kind of cleaned that up things settled down for us a little bit.”
A coast-to-coast drive by Stockton late in the third quarter put G-Prep ahead 53-36.
G-Prep pushed the margin to 24 midway through the fourth quarter.
The Bullpups were especially active defensively in the second half. LC junior guard Riley Lupfer, who got loose for four 3-pointers in the first half and 14 points, was held to no shots in the third and only three more points.
Stockton was largely responsible for the defense on Lupfer.
Gildon didn’t have an answer for G-Prep’s slow start.
“I honestly couldn’t tell you why but I do know we came back and fought our hardest,” Gildon said. “We worked as a team and team chemistry was a big thing for us.”
Michaela Kay led LC with 21 points.
“You know how this works,” Arte said. “Everybody’s going to have star players … it’s the role players that have to get better for us. We have a long way to go. We have a lot of growth that has to take place in the next 10 weeks for us to be where we want to be.”
Ferris 52, Mt. Spokane 47 (OT): Megan and Abby Muelheim combined for 25 points to lead the visiting Saxons past the Wildcats. Lexi Erickson added 11 points for balanced Ferris. Ari Newcomb led Mt. Spokane with 19 points and eight rebounds.
Central Valley 77, North Central 23: Four Bears finished in double-figure scoring as they cruised past the Indians at NC. Madison Hovren led CV with 23 points and freshmen twins Lacie and Lexie Hull had 15 and 11, respectively, while Shayla Vegas added 10. Megan Dean led the Indians with 15 points.
University 64, Rogers 26: The Titans cruised at home behind contributions from several players. Emma Kennedy had seven assists and seven rebounds to lead U-Hi while Brooke Bailey led with 15 points and freshman Claire Dingus scored 14. Sarah Guertin led Rogers with nine points and six rebounds.
Mead 82, Shadle Park 37: Sue Winger scored a game-high 22 points to lead the visiting Panthers past the Highlanders. Teammate Aaliyah Pauling scored 17. Shyla Carr led Shadle with 18 points.
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