It’s not played at the Arena, but Pack the Palace between Mead and Mt. Spokane still has all the fervor and excitement of the other spirit week games.
Add in the attraction of two top-five programs and four teams with winning records and the week’s capping rivalry showdown on Friday had it all.
It should have been a showdown between two college-bound seniors: Mt. Spokane’s Jayda Noble and Mead’s Joelnell Momberg. But both players were in foul trouble early and were held well under their season average.
Instead, Emma Main scored a career-high 25 points and the Wildcats (10-3, 6-0) shut down Mead (9-3, 4-2) 59-35.
Main said despite Noble’s foul trouble, she didn’t feel more pressure to score.
“No, I just did what I always do, I guess,” she said. “It didn’t really feel much different to me.”
“Jayda affects the game so much and when she comes out we just have to rely on each other a lot more.” Mt. Spokane coach David Pratt said.
Main thought the Wildcats’ defensive pressure made the difference.
“We just go hard, hard, hard – nonstop,” she said. “It’s just lots of pressure and it’s just fun. It gets us going.”
The game was initially delayed by a faulty 35-second clock, and the play early was physical and sloppy.
Noble picked up her second foul less than 3 minutes in on a charge and went to the bench for the rest of the quarter, while Momberg’s 3 at the 4-minute mark was the first basket of the game. Mead led 12-8 after one.
Mt. Spokane opened the second with an 8-0 run, fueled by Noble’s quick four points. Kyara Sayers drilled a long 3 with 1:33 left in the half to put the Wildcats up nine and Mt. Spokane led 27-15 at intermission.
Momberg picked up her fourth foul midway through the third with Mead down nine. Main scored off an offensive board, then on a fast break and a 3 and the Wildcats led 45-24 after three.
Alyssa Barnufsky led Mead with 10 points, hitting three 3s in the fourth quarter. Momberg finished with nine while Noble had 11 for Mt. Spokane.
The Panthers did a good job early limiting the potent Mt. Spokane offense, but the Wildcats eventually broke out as Tyson Degenhart scored 26 points – 17 in the second half – to pull away 64-48.
“In our loss at home (earlier this season), we didn’t have a good start and I think that motivates us to really get started the first half and just to continue playing hard throughout the whole game,” Degenhart said.
After a slow start for both teams, Mt. Spokane (12-2, 5-1) led 11-5 after one quarter.
The Wildcats made a concerted effort to get Degenhart the ball in the second and he went to the line several times. His three-point play with 5.1 seconds left put Mt. Spokane up 27-20 at intermission.
Degenhart made a twisting reverse and completed a three-point play to put Mt. Spokane up 40-23 midway through the third. He had eight points in the quarter and the Wildcats led 48-30 entering the fourth.
“We just had to take our time on offense,” Degenhart said. “We were just taking some rough shots, but once we got the ball reversed we got some easy looks and it ended up getting us a nice lead in the third quarter.”
The all-league junior, headed to Boise State, finished alley-oops on back-to-back possessions in the fourth.
“That was fun,” Degenhart said. “I don’t get too many of those.”
Sam Wenkheimer led Mead (6-7, 4-3) with eight points.
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