The North Central girls basketball team did something on Tuesday it hasn’t done since 1992: beat Gonzaga Prep.
It took a 3-pointer by Kyara Sayers as time expired, but the Indians knocked off the Bullpups 47-45 at home. Dakotah Chastain scored 15 points and all-league guard Quincy McDeid added 12, while Sayers finished with nine.
“We got down six at one point and five at another point, but we just continued to fight back and continued to play hard,” said NC first-year coach Tim Lamanna, who stepped into the varsity role after three years as JV coach.
The game is a microcosm of NC’s season. After the win – their third in a row against league opponents – the Indians are 10-7 overall and 5-4 in Greater Spokane League play. They are firmly entrenched in second place in the 3A standings and have clinched the second league seed to the District 8 tournament with three games remaining in the regular season.
That will allow the Indians to host a first-round game against the Mid-Columbia Conference third-place team, most likely Hermiston, Oregon, (6-10, 4-8 MCC), on Feb. 5. Should it advance, NC would travel to face Kamiakin (15-1, 11-1 MCC), which is outscoring its opponents by 20.6 points per game.
Either way, it’s a task Lamanna relishes.
“(Hermiston) will be a good matchup,” Lamanna said. “We’re looking forward to playing that game, and hopefully looking forward to getting another chance at Kamiakin.”
In last year’s district tourney, NC played at Kamiakin in a semifinal and lost 47-37 – a game in which leading scorer McDeid had one point.
McDeid, a senior, scored her 1,000th career point in a win over another MCC school, Walla Walla, in the Avista Holiday Tournament on Dec. 29. Junior Chastain and sophomore Sayers are developing as key players and leaders.
All go 5-foot-10 or better.
“It’s a good nucleus to center your team around.” Lamanna said. “Especially defensively, because they’re all so long and they’re so interchangeable.
“They bring great leadership every day to practice and to games. They push each other as hard as they can to make each other better. When you have your leaders doing that, it sets up a culture in the program.”
McDeid has a reputation as a shooter, but Lamanna said her game has developed this season as much as any of his players. She had a 30-point game against University on Jan. 11.
“Quincy, her thing is as a 3-point specialist,” Lamanna said. “But this year, she’s been putting the ball on the floor and being more aggressive driving to the hole.”
Lamanna will miss having McDeid’s scoring talents next season, but he has hope for the future with Chastain and Sayers – with still more talent on the way.
“Big hope,” he said. “They should mature one more year and be able to help take the blow from losing Quincy. They’ll step up and into that role. We’ve had younger girls who have had to step up, which is giving us depth this year and next year.”
Lamanna is excited about the future of his program and its place in the league.
“I love what I do,” he said. “I love North Central as a community. It’s been fun just being able to coach in the GSL. The GSL is one of the hardest leagues in the state for girls basketball. It’s fun to be able to compete with the best.
“North Central hasn’t always been good at girls basketball and this year we’ve been able to … compete in games. It’s fun to see that.”
Lamanna said he’s interested in the upcoming WIAA vote regarding state classifications. The legislative body will determine if schools can move down a class depending on enrollment numbers and the percentages of free and reduced lunches.
NC could be one of the schools to have an option to play down if the measure passes. Lamanna didn’t hesitate to offer his preference
“I hope we stay 3A, personally,” he said. “ I want to be able to coach against the best. We’re at a point now where, with the girls program, we’re competing against all the 3A and 4A schools at a high level. So I want to stay there.”
But there’s still work to be done this season. Lamanna is looking forward to hosting that district first-round game.
“It’s good for the school, good for the team. Good to get the students out,” he said. “But it’ll be good to have that home atmosphere. Not very often at North Central have we been able to host a playoff game.”
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