The Thursday night game started out a little bit lower energy than I anticipated, especially the Tigers, but by the end of the first half both teams were playing with a much more intense pace and it carried over into the great second half that was showcased. GP- George Pilimai allowed the crowd to again witness his all around offensive game hitting a couple smooth jumpers and a nice drive and score. He really can score from anywhere on the court and other teams defenders must thank the rest of the Highlander roster because it if wasn’t so loaded with ALL STARs, George would score 25 every game with no problem. Kobe Reece pretty much dominated the paint rebounding like a MAN, blasting shots into the walls, and scoring in the post. I absolutely love the chip on his shoulder that he plays with. He shows no mercy and seems to contain the beast well in between the lines. The most complete big man I’ve seen this year in the town of the KAN. On the LC side, after the sluggish half they came out trapping and played a more energized game when Coach sat the starters and had 4 reserves making the run that began in the 4th quater. Isaiah Hernandez, the “International Supreme”, turned up the heat and played a pesky style of defense that baffled the Shadle backcourt more than once. At the end of the game he was the only starter left on the floor making a courageous comeback behind, who else…. Julian Welge. Who put the quarter in this kid? As LC was making it a game, Welge scored 10 straight points and all 19 starting in the middle of the 4th quarter. The tear included 1…2…3 -three pointers, two of them were deeeeeeeep downtown, and a nice dribble drive that left the D for SP lost swatting for air. It was nice! I haven’t seen the zone like that in a while and it was fun to watch! Cant complete this writing without mentioning another freshmen freak with some good Spokane blood lines…. Im talking about Naje’ Smith, nephew of a former ALL LEAGUE great and Catch Spokane “Seasoned Vet” Abdean Smith. Who ironically had the highlight of the game going coast to coast finishing with a pretty “show me and take me away” scoop shot. It’s sweet to see the young man run the court! You should go watch for yourself…..
I was actually more excited to watch this game, even with all of the talent on the floor in the boys game. Let’s start with Shadle Park again. I was here to see one of the more elite scorers in the League, Shyla Carr. She showed improvement since last season, bringing with her in tonight’s match up a slick step back jumper that she executed more than once creating space and swishing the ball through. That’s really the sign of a great shooter….they swish everything and Shyla and Abby Bauenfeind both do just that, not sure if either one of them hit the rim on a made basket all night. Two great shooters! The other phenomenon Shadle had that was a must see for me and should be for you is all the freshmen they play. The foursome of Willow Risinger (starter), Makenna Grier, Emile Tangeman(first off of bench), and Jillian Groves all played well against some of the better and experienced players around and showed a lot of promise for the future of the program. Risinger plays with heart and battles, I always love hoop warriors! With that said the girl who stood out the most in this game was Grier. Number 3 entered the game late first quarter off of the bench and immediately made plays. She just simply has a knack for making things happen on both ends. I tallied 4 deflections from her as she anticipates passes and she only played half of the game. She nailed two treys and knows how to make the zone move with her skip passes. I know that sounds simple but it is very underrated skill at that age. For the Lady Tigers, one of my favorite teams to watch with Lupfer, Kay, Howlett, Bates, and all of their experience, which was in fact the main difference in this game. They are a true team led by the Next Level Senior Michaela Kay, who can honestly score at will. I think at this point in her high school career, she can call her shots. I mean she can tell the defender exactly what she is going to do and still couldn’t be stopped. Next up is Taylor Cunningham who came to play too. She hit threes, sliced through defenders and finished with contact, and plays strong in the post at 5-11, a lot like Sue Winger at Mead. She has a very bright future ahead of her as well.