There aren’t too many nights in the Greater Spokane League when league MVP Tyson Degenhart of Mt. Spokane faces a player that can match his combination of size – 6-foot-8 – and quickness.
But Kamiakin is a matchup problem for anybody, with five players 6-foot-4 or better – including solid, 6-9 center senior Kyson Rose and 6-6 Messiah Jones.
And in the end, it was just too much.
Jones scored 21 points with 15 rebounds and Kamiakin topped GSL champion Mt. Spokane 55-52 in the District 8 3A championship game at the Toyota Center in Kennewick on Friday.
The Wildcats (18-4) face Kennewick in the district second-place game on Saturday with a berth to state on the line.
Steven Westermeyer added 15 points with seven boards for Kamiakin (19-3) and Rose had 10.
Degenhart finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. He had the ball at the end with a chance to tie it but got tied up at the 3-point line at the buzzer by two players and never got his shot off.
“We knew that if we got legs around him, he wouldn’t get as easy shots as he does in a normal game,” Jones said. “So we tried to get as many bodies around him we could.”
“Your heart goes out to that kid because that’s who you want to have the ball and he – it was just unfortunate,” Mt. Spokane coach David Wagenblast said. “He’s gonna be fine, we’re gonna be fine, we’ve got another game tomorrow.”
Mt. Spokane never really found its shooting rhythm – the Cats went a combined 31.3 % from the field, including 6 of 22 from beyond the arc.
“We had our opportunities,” Wagenblast said. “We just, we didn’t convert a lot.”
JoJo Anderson finished with 13 points and Kilo Simpson added 11.
The Braves got a bounce from playing in front of the Tri-Cities fans.
“It’s really nice have all our fans, all of our students and all our parents here to support us,” Jones said. “It really feels good to win in front of them.”
“Jones was spectacular,” Wegenblast said. “He did a nice job on defense, and they did a good job of dribble-drive and dumping it to (the bigs).”
Kamiakin went straight to Rose on its first possession for an inside layup. But some rough offensive play from both teams ensued and Connor Marll’s 3-pointer from the wing helped Mt. Spokane lead 10-8 after one.
Jones scored three straight on the inside to start the second quarter, then Rose converted an offensive rebound, but the Wildcats’ AJ Newcomb halted a 10-2 run with a 3-pointer.
Jones’ dunk just before the end of the half put Kamiakin up 27-24 at intermission. Degenhart had three points at half on 1-of-6 shooting.
Jones hit a short jumper and a 3 to open the second half and Kamiakin went up 32-24. Degenhart converted a three-point play going at Jones, and Kilo Simpson drew Jones’ third foul the next time down on a bucket.
Marll popped his second 3 of the game and Mt. Spokane trailed 42-38 after three.
Jones bulled his way to an offensive rebound and follow-up and the Braves led by six with 3:54 to go. Kilo Simpson banged home a 3 and his contested layup a minute later made it a three-point game.
But Westermeyer answered with a 3 and Jones swatted Atkins at the other end and it was 53-47 with just under 2 minutes left.
Anderson hit a 3 with 6.8 seconds left to make it a three-point game, and Rose missed the front of a 1-and-1. Mt. Spokane hustled it upcourt, but Kamiakin prevented Degenhart from getting off a potential tying shot.
Kennewick 69, Southridge 60: Ayoni Benavidez scored 33 points with nine rebounds and the Lions (15-7) outlasted the Suns (8-15) in a loser-out game. Braxton Collier added 16 points for Kennewick. Tristan Smith paces Southridge with 21 points and 18 rebounds.
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