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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Ryan Lafferty hits late 3-pointer, Mt. Spokane boys outlast Gonzaga Prep; Sitara Byrd leads Bullpups girls over Cats

Mt. Spokane coach David Wagenblast (center) addresses his team during a timeout against Gonzaga Prep on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. The Wildcats won 55-52.  (Dave Nichols/The Spokesman-Review)

It was the last tuneup before league play starts in earnest next week, but it felt like a district playoff game.

A physical fourth quarter turned into a one-possession game and defensive pressure from the visitors made the difference in the waning seconds.

Sophomore Ryan Lafferty hit the biggest shot of the game, a 3-pointer with 14.9 seconds to go, and visiting Mt. Spokane outlasted Gonzaga Prep 55-52 in a nonleague game between Greater Spokane League rivals on Friday.

League play starts Tuesday.

“(Lafferty) did that against Kamiakin (in a 68-64 win on Dec. 29) as well,” Mt. Spokane coach David Wagenblast said. “He made some big plays today.”

“I have confidence in myself and I knew it was time to let it fly,” Lafferty said. 

“It was a great game,” Lafferty added. “It’s always good to play Prep, they’re a really good team and it made us a lot better. So going into league play I think we’re gonna be really confident.”

G-Prep had a possession after Lafferty’s shot, but Gonzaga Prep sophomore guard Henry Sandberg got trapped on the sideline and after a scrum, the Wildcats took possession back to end it.

“That was a very high-level (game) in terms of intensity,” Wagenblast said. “The kids really wanted it on both sides, where every possession was just an absolute war to try and go score.”

“Both teams were playing extremely hard and it’ll serve us both well for the rest of the season,” Gonzaga Prep coach Matty McIntyre said. 

Chapel Smith led Mt. Spokane (10-2) with 21 points and Lafferty finished with 18.

Jayden Stephens paced Gonzaga Prep (5-6) with 16 points and Jamil Miller added 11.

The Bullpups made it a point to work inside early. Stephens scored on a couple of layups, including one off a steal at midcourt, then took a bounce pass from Miller for a two-handed jam and early 10-2 lead. 

Stephens picked up his second foul with 3 minutes left in the frame and went to the bench. Lafferty drilled a 3-pointer and Aiden Prado’s layup with 45 seconds left gave the Wildcats their first lead. It was tied at 12 after one.

Smith hit a pair from beyond the arc to to put the Cats up 23-20 midway through the second, but Miller converted a three-point play to tie it.

Lafferty got loose for a fast-break dunk, but Stevens’ give-and-go on a fast break with Sandberg resulted in a finger-roll layup and G-Prep led 28-27 at the break. 

Midway through the third, Stevens grabbed another steal and fed Miller on the wing, who gave it back to the streaking Stephens for a one-handed jam and 36-34 lead. 

“Jayden’s a senior leader,” McIntyre said. “He’s a four-year guy.”

Smith banked home a 3-pointer to draw Mt. Spokane within two at 43-41 after three. Smith had 10 in the frame.

“(Smith) has the ability to really stretch the floor for us,” Wagenblast said. “There was a stretch where we had to go without without (leading scorer) Maverick Sanders and Chapel really picked us up there.”

Smith hit from way downtown to put the Cats up by one with 3 minutes left and Lafferty’s layup on a back-door cut made it a five-point game. 

Sandberg’s driving layup made it 52-50 and Miller tied it going coast-to-coast again with 36 seconds left.

Lafferty answered with the go-ahead, then the Cats made the defensive stop they needed. 

“That’s a good tune up for us and was a lot of fun for for the kids,” Wagenblast said.

“The first two months of the season is about growth,” McIntyre said. “And the way that the schedule is lined up this year is different than any time I’ve ever seen it. And so you got nine games to crown a GSL champion and that process starts on Tuesday.”


Gonzaga Prep 59, Mt. Spokane 35: Sitara Byrd scored 20 points and the Bullpups (9-2) rode a 23-4 first quarter to a win over the Wildcats (3-7) in the early game.

Lucy Lynn and Taliah Lee added 11 points apiece for the Pups.

G-Prep has won six in a row, including all three at the Moses Lake Mixer over the holiday break.

“Taliah has a scoring mentality and she does a really nice job,” Gonzaga Prep coach Mike Arte said. “Obviously Sitara has a scoring mentality and then Lucy’s just a baller.

“(Lynn), you know, to me, she’s made so much improvement the last two years since we’ve had her on the varsity and she’s become a really great player.”

Arte thinks his squad is ready for league play, which starts on Tuesday against Ridgeline.

“We have to learn to find the open person a little better, and we’re getting better at that,” he said. “But I’m real happy with our development right now.”

Junior Bryten Gumke led the young Mt. Spokane squad with eight points. The Wildcats dress no seniors on varsity this season.