Mt. Spokane and Central Valley enjoyed a robust holiday tournament season, with the Wildcats winning the Les Schwab Invitational “The Eight” tournament in Portland last weekend and CV taking the title at the Fort Vancouver Classic just after Christmas.
The teams came into play averaging over 70 points per game, but once Greater Spokane League play gets back underway, you can disregard any early season accolades.
While they won’t face each other in the postseason, Tuesday’s battle in the lone meeting between the teams could mean the difference in the regular-season title.
CV used a variety of defenses to limit Mt. Spokane’s Tyson Degenhart to 18 points – more than 10 points under his season average – and the Bears prevailed 58-55 after withstanding a furious second-half comeback attempt by the home team.
Jayce Simmons led CV (10-1, 5-0) with 16 points, while Noah Sanders added 12.
Kilo Simpson provided Degenhart with some help, scoring 12 points – eight in the fourth quarter for the Wildcats (10-2, 3-1).
With 50 seconds to go, Gavin Gilstrap grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed 3 and hit a layup over Degenhart to put the Bears up by one. A traveling call at the other end with 7 seconds left gave it back to CV.
“Matter of fact, (Gilstrap) wouldn’t have made that play last year,” CV coach Mike Laws said of his emerging 6-foot-10 junior. “Last year, he was rehabbing all year, coming off a broken leg. He’s got his legs under him now and he’s so much stronger and he’s starting to really come into his own little bit. He’s a pretty big force to deal.”
CV got it in to Dylan Darling, who was immediately fouled by Degenhart with 4.1 seconds left. Darling made the pair to make it a three-point game.
The Wildcats hustled it to the frontcourt and called time with 3.6 seconds left to set up their last play.
With Gilstrap providing resistance, AJ Newcomb tried to inbound it to Anderson off a screen, but the pass went awry and the Bears hung on.
“We played really good defense for a lot of the game and, unfortunately, CV really took it to us and had such a lead that we just even when we took the lead, we just couldn’t sustain it,” Mt. Spokane coach David Wagenblast said.
“And (CV) made some really big plays down the stretch and to their kids’ credit, you know, they make an offensive rebound and the putback by Gilstrap – obviously a huge play.”
CV got out of the gate quickly, using a box-and-one and different double-teams on Degenhart to limit his effectiveness in the paint.
On the other end, the Bears built a 15-9 lead. A 9-2 run at the end of the quarter, ignited by a 3-pointer by Sanders, helped CV lead 24-11 after one.
“We had a nice run early,” Laws said. “We knew that a (Mt. Spokane) run was coming, it was a matter of whether we could keep our poise, could kind of keep our focus.”
Mt. Spokane turned up its defensive pressure in the second quarter. The teams combined to score 18 points and CV led 33-20 at intermission.
The Wildcats got back into it in the third, mostly at the line. With a renewed interested in taking to the basket, Mt Spokane made 8 of 10 at the line in the quarter.
Degenhart’s putback off a missed free throw cut the deficit to six points at 41-35 with 2:22 left in the third.
Caleb Wallace drilled a 3 with 20 seconds let to make it a three-point game, but a foul on JoJo Anderson gave Simmons three shots with 0.7 left. He hit them all and the Bears led 46-40 after three.
“We wanted to pound it inside. Obviously, were trying to do that,” Laws said. “We got a little bit of foul trouble that made it difficult, especially in that third quarter.”
With CV playing a box-and-one on Degenhart at the start of the fourth, Kilo Simpson bulled his way into the lane for a layup and converted the free throw it make it 50-45.
Kobe Simpson came up with a steal and fed brother Kilo, who sent the distance for a layup to make it 50-48 with 4:23 left.
With 50 seconds left, an inbound play went to Degenhart, who hit a baby hook to put the Wildcats up 55-54 with 50 seconds left.
Around the league
Gonzaga Prep 83, Shadle Park 36: Liam Lloyd scored 20 points and the visiting Bullpups (7-4, 4-1) beat the Highlanders (2-10, 0-4).
Jake Wilcox led Shadle Park with 11 points on three 3-pointers.
Will Reeves added 16 points for G-Prep.
University 56, Lewis and Clark 55 (OT): Luke Hawley scored 18 points with five 3-pointers and the visiting Titans (4-7, 2-3) beat the Tigers (1-8, 1-4) in overtime.
Hawley made three free throws late in the game to give U-Hi a one-point lead. Adonis Winkler-Coty added 14 points for the Titans.
Landon Lewis led LC with 15 points and Miles Heath added 11.
Mead 77, Rogers 39: Tyson Rogalette scored 18 points, Josh Allen added 10 and the Panthers (6-5, 4-1) defeated the Pirates (2-7, 0-4).
Evan Nomee led Rogers with 11 points.
Ferris 67, North Central 32: Cole Omlin and Jaden Bowton scored 12 points apiece and the visiting Saxons (7-4, 3-2) beat the Indians (1-11, 1-3).
Twelve players scored for Ferris.
Ayden Barnufksy led North Central with 10 points.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.