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'Groovy Shoes': Shalene Ervin leads North Central girls over Shadle Park; NC boys roll in late game

Jan. 9—Sometimes competition is not about wins and losses. It can also be about celebrating teams and student bodies that may not otherwise have the opportunity to compete on a big stage in front of a large — and loud — crowd.

It's why the annual spirit games at Spokane Arena involving the Spokane Public Schools are vitally important to our community.

The first of the annual games took place Tuesday, featuring Shadle Park and North Central in the 32nd edition in the battle for the "Groovy Shoes."

While the teams clashed on the court, the students in the stands cheered, screamed, sang and danced all evening long in the spirit competition.

North Central was the victor in the show of school spirit.

At the end of the evening, North Central also swept the basketball play for the second year in a row and earned its seventh consecutive win in the spirit competition.

In the early game, NC senior Shalene Ervin scored 13 points and the Wolfpack (1-11) edged the Highlanders (1-8) 39-38 in the nonleague game between Greater Spokane League members.

Maya Burnett came off the bench to lead Shadle Park with 10 points.

There were seven lead changes and neither team had a lead larger than three points after the first quarter.

"Insane," Ervin said of the noise. "It's just so hard to play in such a chaotic atmosphere.

"You hear (the noise) and come back into it and you realize 'Oh, just lost the ball.' 'Oh, you gotta go hard for it.' You just got to make try to make up for those mistakes because it's really hard when there's so much going on around you."

"The noise is unprecedented," NC coach Joseph Kraus said. "I said 'You're not gonna be able to hear me. This is our game plan, we have to know it. We have to be disciplined.' "

NC had scored 45 and 55 points in 0its past two games.

"I had to tell the girls even though we're losing, we've got to look at this as every opportunity we've got to get better," Kraus said. "At the end of the day, a win is a win."

Ervin's 3-pointer from the corner early in the fourth quarter gave NC a 30-28 lead. Feather Auld made 3 for 4 at the line to put the Wolfpack up by one with 2:19 left. Marlee Schoeffler's putback made it a three-point game with 49.8 seconds remaining, but Shadle's Maya Burnett made a steal and went the distance to pull Shadle within one with 14.4 seconds left.

Ervin was fouled in the backcourt and made both free throws with 11.6 remaining to ice it.

Ervin, who was averaging 17 points in her past four games, had just two points at halftime.

"After you get into that locker room and then you come back out, you just gotta take a deep breath and restart," she said. "The second half is a new game. So, I just took a deep breath and I tried to ignore the all the chaos."

Auld, a junior, finished with eight points, five in the fourth quarter.

"We're trying to find the best five players to put out there," Kraus said. "I had to have Feather out there. It was one of those things where I just I can't take her out. I wanted to end the game with five seniors on the floor ... but it didn't happen."

NC got out to a 7-0 lead, but Shadle countered with a seven-point run, punctuated by a long 3-pointer by Tameira Thompson and a pair of fastbreak layups by Makenzie Fager. NC's Taylena Bigsmoke drained a 3 and the Wolfpack led 12-9 after one quarter.

The teams combined for one basket in the first 4:20 of the second quarter. Shadle Park went on a 6-0 run late in the quarter and Maya Burnett's 3 just before the horn gave the Highlanders a 20-18 lead at halftime.

Both teams struggled from the field in the third quarter, and Shadle took a 28-25 lead into the fourth quarter.

"We still have seven more games left and it's one of those things to where you know, you can only look to improve each game," Kraus said.

Boys

North Central 72, Shadle Park 43: Jacori Ervin scored 18 points, Eli Williams added 16 and the Wolfpack (9-1) cruised past the Highlanders (5-4) in the late game.

NC led 24-9 after the first quarter, but Jacob Boston scored six quick points, including two free throws on a technical foul, and Shadle got within eight. But Makai Daniels got loose inside off a feed from JuJu Ervin, and Eli Williams converted a loose ball into two points, and NC led 40-23 at halftime.

NC scored the first seven points of the second half, including a long 3-pointer by Trevelle Jones, and built a 25-point lead midway through the third quarter.