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Sports >  High school sports

Girls 3A regional: Experienced seniors lead Mt. Spokane over Shorecrest; Wildcats advance to quarters

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 28, 2020

Mt. Spokane forward Gracey Neal (20) shoots the ball against Shorecrest during a girls 4A regional high school basketball playoff game, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, at University High School. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Mt. Spokane forward Gracey Neal (20) shoots the ball against Shorecrest during a girls 4A regional high school basketball playoff game, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, at University High School. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Mt. Spokane lost a heartbreaker in last year’s state title game and though the roster has undergone some major changes, it’s powerful enough to get back there this season.

The Wildcats showed off some of that might on Friday night.

Jayda Noble scored 22 points, Mt. Spokane ran off 21 straight points to end the second quarter and the No. 4 Wildcats beat No. 5 Shorecrest 78-49 in a State 3A regional round matchup at University HS.

District 8 champion Mt. Spokane advances to a quarterfinal game on Thursday at the Tacoma Dome. District 1 champion Shorecrest faces a first-round loser-out on Wednesday.

“We had to work hard and I think that second quarter set us apart,” Mt. Spokane coach David Pratt said. “We really had a nice second quarter, right, and then we got the locker room and the kids were focused and dialed in.”

With Mt. Spokane often employing four 6-footers, including two who would run point, Shorecrest had trouble matching up with the Wildcats’ size and athleticism.

“We noticed their size, so we’re going to take advantage if we can,” Pratt said. “There’s going to be some teams are gonna try to run us really fast, which is fine with us, and then we’ll still try to pound it inside.”

“It’s a comfort, honestly,” Noble said. “Knowing that if we do shoot, 80% of time we’re gonna get a rebound offensively, defensively. It helps because not just the fact that we’re tall, but we have athletes and we have hard workers on the court and that’s what matters.”

Seniors Noble, bound for the Pac-12 next season at Washington, and Emma Main are key holdovers from last year’s championship run.

“In practice every day, both of them will say everything they can based on their experience,” Pratt said. “ ‘Here’s what we’re going to face, here’s what it feels like, here’s what it looks like, we’ve gotta have a high level practice today.’ That leadership takes your team then the next level.”

Main finished with 13 points and junior Kyara Sayers added 11 off the bench.

Sydney VanNess finished with 15 points for Shorecrest despite playing through a swollen knuckle sustained on a rebound attempt.

Amanda Lee and Maura Weaver both hit corner 3-pointers early and Shorecrest jumped out to an 8-4 lead. Main hit a 3, Noble added a midrange jumper and the Wildcats tied it at 11.

Noble hit Sophia Bertotti-Metoyer for a fastbreak layup and Mt. Spokane led 16-11 after one.

Early in the second, the Highlanders’ Alexa Svendsen hit from long range to tie it at 20. Noble took over, scoring the next three baskets – all in traffic.

Sayers converted a four-point play and Mt. Spokane opened a 10-point lead. Kyla Randall and Sayers hit again from long distance and Noble’s late 3 closed a 21-0 run for a 41-20 Wildcats lead at halftime.

Main and Gracey Neal scored six points apiece in the third and Mt. Spokane maintained its big lead. Noble’s bucket at the buzzer made it 59-36 entering the fourth.

Main hit a 3 to kick off the fourth and Shorecrest never found a run to cut into the deficit.

The only place Mt. Spokane didn’t dominate was at the line. The Wildcats converted just 12 of 26 free throws.

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