Central Valley and Gonzaga Prep are no stranger to battling at the top of the Greater Spokane League 4A standings.
With one league loss between them entering play – CV’s 87-75 win over G-Prep on Dec. 3 – it was again billed as a battle of the titans.
It didn’t quite work out that way.
The Bears, ranked No. 5 in Class 4A in the WIAA’s RPI system, limited Liam Lloyd to 10 points and CV downed the Bullpups 55-43 to take a two-game lead with five to play.
Noah Sanders and Jayce Simmons led CV (14-1, 9-0) with 12 points apiece.
Hodges Flemming led G-Prep (10-5, 7-2) with 18.
“We’re very excited. The kids are excited,” CV coach Mike Laws said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve gotten a double on Prep.”
“That’s a big win,” Simmons said. “That’s a really, really good basketball team over there. Prep’s always super disciplined on defense so it’s hard putting up points, especially in their place. It’s one of the toughest places to play in Washington. Great atmosphere.”
Lloyd, who averages 20.1 points, came out cold, missing hit first four shots, and the Bears led 13-10 after one.
“It was a team defense,” Laws said. “We had different guys doing different roles, and everybody just worked their tail off.”
“We all focused all week in practices playing defense, different types of defense,” 6-foot-10 center Gavin Gilstrap said.
“Our man defense, we hunkered down on that and we got the job done.”
Carsen Raab and Quinn Johnson knocked down 3s at the start of the second and CV went up 21-10 before Lloyd hit his first from long distance. The Bears took a 31-19 lead into intermission.
Flemming scored on a sweet finger roll to cut CV’s lead to eight early in the third and Lloyd buried a 3 on a fast break. But Gilstrap (10 points) scored three times at the basket and G-Prep trailed 42-28 with just 2 minutes left in the quarter.
G-Prep called timeout and Lloyd came out holding his side in discomfort. Sanders scored off a back-door cut and CV took a 14-point lead into the fourth.
“He’s got really soft hands and good vision, and he’s very unselfish,” Laws said of Gilstrap. “We go to him, and he commands a double team, and he’s not going to try to force it. He’s real smart, and he finds that cutter.”
Lloyd checked back in for the fourth, but the Bullpups still found the shooting rough. Raab’s high-flying follow gave CV a 51-39 lead with 2 minutes to go.
“We threw a lot of stuff out there in practice this week,” Simmons said. “And so it’s just a matter of what we were going to do to be able to disorient Lloyd. (He’s a) big part of their offense so I feel like we did that tonight.”
Around the league
Mead 77, North Central 30: Tyson Rogalette scored 18 points and the Panthers (8-7, 6-3) beat the visiting Indians (2-14, 2-6). Ayden Barnufsky led North Central with 10 points.
University 75, Shadle Park 48: Conrad Bippes scored 18 points and the Titans (7-8, 5-4) beat the visiting Highlanders (2-14, 0-8). Kohlby Sorweide led Shadle with 15.
Lewis and Clark 56, Rogers 39: Miles Heath scored 17 points and the visiting Tigers (4-10, 4-5) beat the Pirates (2-13, 0-8). Corbin Staker led Rogers with 13 points.
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