By the time North Idaho College forward Alphonso Anderson hammered down a driving baseline dunk on a pair of powder-blue-clad defenders Wednesday, the rivalrous buzz had already escaped Rolly Williams Court.
The two-handed flush gave the Cardinals a 30-point cushion early in the second half, a chasm that Northwest Athletic Conference nemesis Community Colleges of Spokane couldn’t shrink.
Top-ranked NIC (25-2, 14-0) clinched an East Region title with its 96-67 rout of CCS (18-9, 9-5), the latest in a lengthy string of thumpings the defending NWAC champion Cardinals have doled out this season.
Anderson, a Utah State commit, scored 22 of his game-high 30 points in the first half, ripped down 11 rebounds and had four blocks for NIC, which has beaten its conference foes by an average of 38 points.
NIC head coach Corey Symons jokingly reminded Anderson he was held held scoreless in a 99-65 rout of the Sasquatch last month in Spokane, fueling the the 6-foot-7 swingman from Seattle’s Garfield High.
“Spokane played hard, but I think we instilled a little bit of fear in the teams in the East Region,” Anderson said. “We come out and play hard every night and they know that, so it’s tough.”
Reigning NWAC Most Valuable Player RayQuan Evans – a 6-foot-4 guard generating interest from a few Pac-12 schools – sparked the Cardinals’ swift 11-0 lead, setting the tone of the rout.
Evans scored 23 points to go with 11 rebounds and seven assists.
In recent years, NIC and CCS have split their regular-season contests, which had Symons thinking the the Sasquatch would present more trouble in Round 2.
Instead, the Cardinals shot 56 percent from the field in the first half in front of a crowd that nearly filled the Coeur d’Alene school’s gymnasium.
The bigger, deeper Cardinals also won the rebounding battle, 55-29.
“It’s a rivalry, so when were loaded with talent and were part of the NJCAA, Spokane gave us trouble,” said Symons, who won his third conference title in five years as NIC’s head coach. “But our length, athleticism and depth just kind of wears on teams.”
Spokane guard Dedrick Pakootas, who prepped at Lewis and Clark High, agreed.
“They’re super strong and super fast, and we can’t really match up with them physically,” said Pakootas, who scored 11 points. “We just try to play hard, but they also played hard.”
Former Post Falls guard Tanner McCliment-Call’s 15 points led CCS, which sits in third in the NWAC standings.
North Idaho 69, CC Spokane 57: Former Lake City High standout Keara Simpson scored 16 points and ripped down 13 rebounds for NIC, which completed a season sweep of its East Region rival.
The Cardinals (19-7, 9-5 NWAC) used a 22-9 third quarter to down CCS (16-10, 5-9), which was led by ex-Lapwai star Koyama Young’s 19 points.
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