It might have felt somewhat strange gathering for a Greater Spokane League basketball championship game after most of the area high schools have already graduated. But it sure felt like GSL basketball anyway.
The home team’s student section was raucous. The coaches were feisty. And the play on the floor was what should be expected between two of the best teams in the state in their respective classifications with senior-laden rosters.
The undefeated host, Mt. Spokane, was a State 3A qualifier in 2020 and hoped for more this season in all-state forward Tyson Degnehart’s senior year.
The one-loss visitor, Central Valley, played in the 2020 State 4A title game and was probably better this season than last.
The previous time the teams met this season, the Wildcats eked out a 78-75 win on a late 3-pointer.
So it was no surprise that this one came down to the end.
Degenhart, the reigning GSL MVP who is headed for Boise State on Monday, scored 24 points and the Wildcats edged the Bears 63-60 in the East Region 4A/3A title game on Wednesday.
“This means a great deal to me,” Degenhart said. “Not being able to play for a state title – this was our state title right here. To go 12-0 and undefeated, it means the world to me.”
Mt Spokane beat CV (10-2) twice this season by a combined six points.
“We had two really great games against them this year,” Degenhart said. “Hats off to them.”
“That was a great basketball game,” Mt. Spokane coach David Wagenblast said. “If you were just a fan of basketball, it was a great game. It was as physical a game that you’re ever going to see. And the kids on both teams did an incredible job of staying poised and then just playing through it.”
CV coach Mike Laws said the situation didn’t damper the championship feeling in the gym.
“Kids have already graduated, no school this week. We were a little off our line, you know, getting prepared and stuff, but it was a heck of a basketball game.”
Dylan Darling (13 points) converted a steal to give CV a one-point lead with 1:27 to go, but Degenhart hit a pair of free throws to take back the advantage.
CV’s Teagen Hoard (17 points) drew his fifth foul on a charging call with 41.6 seconds left, but a steal by Darling gave CV the ball with 17.2 seconds left and 13 on the shot clock. Lauren O’Neill’s 3-point attempt was short and Degenhart collected the rebound and was fouled.
He made both attempts for a three-point lead.
Darling went back to the line with 3.8 seconds left. He missed, and the loose ball left the clock with 0.5 seconds to go. The Bears couldn’t get the ball in play.
Though his career didn’t end with a state title, Degenhart was satisfied with the way it did end.
“I gave it my all,” he said. “And I wouldn’t trade these four years for anything.”
“(Degenhart) is one of the best players to ever come from Spokane,” Wagenblast said, “That is not a dig on anyone, that is just a testament to that kid, and how special he is as a basketball player. And if you get to know him, he’s a better person.”
Kobe Simpson (12 points) hit a 3-pointer and floater to put Mt. Spokane up five early in the second quarter. Degenhart added a slam and his tip-in with 20 seconds left gave the Wildcats a 32-28 lead at intermission.
Degenhart had 16 points at the half.
“We knew they were gonna come hard,” Degenhart said. “Because the championship game, that’s just that mentality. So we had to come and match their intensity right from the beginning.”
Gavin Gilstrap’s two-handed slam tied it at 37 midway through the third, then Ryan Clay hit a pair beyond the arc to put CV up 44-41 with 2½ minutes left in the quarter. Gilstrap’s layup with 20 seconds left gave CV a 47-45 lead after three.
University 65, Gonzaga Prep 58: The Titans (9-4) beat the Bullpups (7-6) in the East Region third-place game. Details were unavailable.
Ferris 60, Mead 46: Trayce Atkins scored 25 points and the Saxons (6-7) beat the visiting Panthers (3-9) in a 4A/3A consolation game.
Lewis and Clark 53, Cheney 50: Landon Lewis scored 27 points with five 3-pointers and the Tigers (4-10) defeated the visiting Blackhawks (0-12) in a 4A/3A consolation game. Josh Whiteley led Cheney with 19 points.
Pullman 66, Clarkston 49: Grayson Hunt scored 16 points, Ayden Barbour added 15 and the Greyhounds (10-2) defeated the visiting Bantams (10-3) in the East Region 2A championship game. Xavier Santana led Clarkston with 10 points.
West Valley 66, Shadle Park 54: Turner Livingston scored 16 points and the visiting Eagles (5-7) defeated the Highlanders (10-4) in the 2A third-place game. Treden Davis-Reed and Jackson Harty added 10 points apiece for West Valley. Jamil Miller led Shadle Park with 17 points.
East Valley 73, Rogers 37: Luke Holecek scored 33 points with five 3-pointers and the Knights (2-10) beat the visiting Pirates (1-12) in a 2A consolation game.
North Central 64, Othello 48: Elijah Williams scored 21 points with three 3-pointers and the Indians (6-6) defeated the visiting Huskies (6-8) in a 2A consolation game. Isaac Guzman led Othello with 17 points.
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