MJ Bruno and Abby Lewis had already done nearly everything seniors are supposed to do at Central Valley, up to and including going through graduation.
Their final act as Bears was to deliver Wednesday’s East Region championship game with a 63-60 win over Mead and help cut down the nets for the last time.
With 27 seconds left and clinging to a four-point lead, Lewis stepped to the sideline opposite the CV bench to inbound the ball. Bruno popped out to the wing and the two seniors made eye contact, they way they’ve done hundreds of times before.
Lewis hit Bruno with the pass and then got it back as she sprinted to the basket for the deciding three-point play.
“We’ve run that play so many times – Chloe Williams and I run that same play,” Bruno said. “I just have so much confidence in how fast our guards are and I know no one is going to catch them.”
The Bears (11-1) have a history of playing, and winning, big games, so the season finale was nothing unfamiliar.
“We’re the defending state champions, so we’ve played in a lot of big games,” CV coach Felice Orrell said. “Different players stepped up and made big plays for us.”
Sophomore Skyler Neumann stepped up in a big way in the second quarter. After CV missed nine of its first 10 shots and the Panthers (9-3) clawed to a 21-17 lead, Neumann grabbed the ball underneath her basket, found a crease between defenders and put up a high scoop shot that fell softly through the net. Then she knocked down back-to-back 3s in an 8-0 run that put the Bears in front by three.
Mead grabbed a 28-27 lead early in the third quarter, but seniors Cameryn Rudd and Williams answered with back-to-back 3s to put CV up for good. Williams added a 3 in the final minute to make it 41-37 going into the fourth quarter.
Senior Grace Geldien opened the fourth quarter with a clutch 3-pointer and added another with 3:08 left to push the CV lead to 56-47.
Bruno was originally scheduled to report to the University of Portland Monday until COVID-19 restrictions postponed it a week. She put that time to good use by diving for every loose ball and reaching for every carom.
“This was an important game,” she said. “Mead beat us when we played them before and we didn’t play very well in that game. We just wanted this one. Skyler stepped up huge and we all just kind of took turns stepping up. That’s what this team is all about – we’re there for each other.”
Lewis and Clark 68, Cheney 49 : Macey Grant scored 20 points with four 3-pointers, Andie Zylak added 19 points and the Tigers (8-5) defeated the visiting Blackhawks (4-8) in the 4A/3A third-place game. Makenna Benson led Cheney with 12 points with three 3-pointers.
Ferris 45, University 29: Kacey Spink scored 16 points, Bailey Warnica added 12 and the Saxons (4-9) defeated the visiting Titans (4-8) in a 4A/3A consolation game. Julianna Jeross led U-Hi with eight points.
Mt. Spokane 59, Gonzaga Prep 44: Bryten Grumke scored 21 points with seven 3-pointers and the visiting Wildcats (4-8) beat the Bullpups (5-7) in a 4A/3A consolation game. Destiny Kamalu-Vargas scored 19 points with five 3-pointers for Mt. Spokane. Lydia Myers led G-Prep with 15 points.
Clarkston 73, West Valley 35: Ashlyn Wallace scored 22 points with seven rebounds and seven steals and the Bantams (14-0) beat the visiting Eagles (10-2) in the East Region 2A title game on Wednesday. Jacey Hernandez scored 13 points and Kendall Wallace added 11 points with three 3-pointers for Clarkston.
East Valley 59, Shadle Park 50: Mataya Green scored 22 points and the Knights (8-4) beat the visiting Highlanders (6-7) in a GSL 2A third-place game. Izzy Boring scored 24 points with four 3-pointers for Shadle Park.
North Central 72, Rogers 37: Justine Tonasket scored 18 points with three 3-pointers and the Indians (3-9) defeated the Pirates (0-12) in a 2A consolation game. Sara Patrick added 13 points for North Central. Jalayla Brown led Rogers with 24 points and six 3-pointers.
Othello 57, Pullman 48: The Huskies (6-8) beat the Greyhounds (5-7) in a 2A consolation game. Details were unavailable.
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