Like a heavyweight champ, Mt. Spokane took a couple of punches early. But the Greater Spokane League champs – and their recently crowned league MVP, Tyson Degenhart – stood tall, fought back and ended up where they’ve been most of the year … on top.
Degenhart scored 21 points, most in the second half, JoJo Anderson added 15, most in the first half, and the Wildcats outlasted visiting fourth-seeded Kennewick 80-54 on Friday in a District 8 3A semifinal.
Mt. Spokane (18-3) plays MCC champion Kamiakin (18-3) in the district title game at Toyota Center in Kennewick on Feb. 21.
Kennewick was led by Ayani Benevidez with 22 points. The Lions face Southridge in a loser-out.
Kennewick gave the Wildcats all they wanted in the first quarter – and then some.
Blaine Chavez hit a couple of 3-pointers early and the Lions went up 12-8.
Degenhart scored on a spin move, then converted a three-point play to make it a one-point game. But Benevidez hit a long 3 late in the quarter and Kennewick led 19-17 after one.
“They came out and had a nice game plan with regards to, you know, really trying to punch,” Mt. Spokane coach David Wagenblast said. “In the first quarter, the Chavez kid was a big difference and knocking down his shot.”
“We just had a rough first quarter,” Degenhart said. “We gave up too many points on too many layups and we knew we had to tighten it up in the second quarter.”
Mt. Spokane took its first lead midway through the second at 26-25 as Mitch Stengle scored on a fastbreak. Connor Marll nailed a 3 just before the horn and Mt. Spokane led 33-25 at intermission.
“(Marll) is such a defensive spark, and his energy is just contagious,” Wagenblast said. “And so the guys just went nuts when he hit that big 3.”
“We call him ‘Auto’ like he’s automatic in practice,” Anderson said of Marll. “We try to keep him going. He really can shoot if he wants to.”
Degenhart drilled a 3 from the top of the key and Anderson scored off a steal to make it 40-27 early in the third.
Degenhart’s 3 with 2 minutes left in the quarter made it a 20-point game and the Wildcats led 61-41 after three.
District 7 2A
West Valley 52, East Valley 30: Blaine Vasicek and Mikhail Sweet scored 14 points apiece and the fourth-seeded Eagles (10-11) eliminated the third-seeded Knights (8-13) in the first round of the District 7 2A tournament at University HS. West Valley faces Pullman in a semifinal on Saturday.
Pullman 79, Cheney 53: Ethan Kramer scored 26 points and the second-seeded Greyhounds (12-9) defeated the fifth-seeded Blackhawks (3-18).
Josh Whiteley scored 22 points for Cheney.
District 7 1A
Freeman 53, Newport 40: Kaleb Ohler scored 19 points and the top-seeded Scotties (16-5) beat the visiting fourth-seeded Grizzlies (14-8) in a District 7 1A semifinal game at West Valley HS. Freeman plays Deer Park in the district title game on Wednesday.
Deer Park 69, Medical Lake 66: Hunter Dryden scored 22 points, Jobi Gelder added 20 and the second-seeded Stags (15-6) beat the third-seeded Cardinals (16-6). Jordan Peterson led Medical Lake with 20 points. Medical Lake faces Newport in the district third-place game on Wednesday.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.