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Sports >  High school sports

Highly-ranked Mead girls turn up defensive pressure, run away from Central Valley

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 25, 2022

It doesn’t matter which ranking or rating service you ascribe to, Mead is among the top handful of teams in the state – regardless of classification.

On Tuesday, the Panthers played like it, and perhaps sent a message to others around the state.

“Definitely don’t sleep on us,” sophomore guard Teryn Gardner said.

Gardner scored 19 points and Mead, rated No. 1 across all classifications this week according to the MaxPreps rating system – but No. 2 in 3A in the media poll – beat visiting Central Valley 65-20 in a Greater Spokane League game.

“The polls don’t necessarily matter right now,” Gardner said.

“I think it’s cool to see, but it’s more about how hard we play and playing for ourselves.”

The game went to a running clock with 3½ minutes left in the third quarter and both teams played mostly reserves in the fourth. The 45-point decision was CV’s worst loss since 1989.

“That was fun,” Mead coach Quantae Anderson said. “A lot of fun.

“I really felt like we came out with this defensive effort, this mindset of playing the best defense we could play for 32 minutes. And I think we did that for the most part.”

“I was really proud of us,” Gardner said. “We never stopped going. We always want to be known for never giving up and not having any dips. We want to run the floor. We just really always give a hard effort, and I’m really proud of us for that.”

Senior Olivia Moore added 17 points for the Panthers (14-0 overall, 4-0 GSL).

“We were just looking to push the ball, capitalize on our run,” Moore said. “We’ve been on kind of a roll lately and we just want to keep that up and continue to beat teams and just prepare for state.”

Moore said it’s hard to ignore the lofty rankings.

“We want to get recognition and stuff but ultimately, it’s (more about) what we believe in, and where we can go,” she said. “As long as we trust each other and believe in each other, we know we can go far.”

Natalie Brown led CV (8-6, 3-2) with six points off the bench.

“We worked hard, it’s just those mental lapses of execution,” CV coach Felice Orrell said.

“Sticking to our defensive scout, offensively be crisp getting to our spots with urgency and against a really, really solid team, you can’t afford to do that.”

It was the Panthers’ second win of the season over CV. Mead won 56-39 at CV on Dec. 7 in an early season nonleaguer

.

“We don’t talk ratings,” Anderson said. “I don’t even look at the ratings. People will come and tell me that, ‘Hey, you guys are ranked here.’ For us, our team, we don’t care about where we’re ranked.

“We just want to play where we can play. We’re focused on the day. And the ratings are going to be the ratings. You know, really what really matters is at the end of the season.”

Mead raced out to a 14-4 lead at the first media timeout, with Moore and Gardner hitting 3-pointers. Moore hit two other 3-pointers in quarter and the Panthers led 24-6 after one quarter.

“We are doing our best to get stops first,” Anderson said. “You get stops, we get rebounds, and we can go on transition. We’re really fast. And we are doing a better job of sharing the ball.”

Mead scored the first 10 points of the second quarter, converting turnovers off full-court pressure defense into easy baskets.

“We’re trying to get better each day,” Anderson said. “But it does feel good to be able to hold a good team like that to 20 points, and 10 points for half.”

“We really pride ourselves on our defense,” Moore said.

“We turn that into offense and like to get fast breaks and capitalize on steals and turnovers from the other team.”

Orrell said she’d keep her teachable moments from the loss simple.

“I think it’s just keeping us accountable on what we want to do and what we need to do and sticking to the scouting, being coachable,” she said. “Just a lot of lapses of mental focus tonight.”

It wasn’t too long ago when Central Valley was posting lopsided scores in league games, with state titles in 2018 behind the Hull twins – now trying to help Stanford win a second consecutive national college championship – and in 2020, in Orrell’s first season with the Bears.

But the Bears had trouble with Mead’s press. When they did break it they shot poorly, hitting on 5 of 29 shots (17%) in the first half.

“It’s reality,” Orrell said. “Tide’s always changing, but there’s still a lot of great basketball to be played in this season and we’re gonna be fine.”

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