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Teryn Gardner goes for career-high 36 points, Mead girls run away from Gonzaga Prep 82-57

Feb. 2—Friday night's matchup between Mead and Gonzaga Prep's girls teams was supposed to be a heavyweight title match featuring two squads undefeated in league for the regular-season title. Despite a brief slow start, the two-time defending Greater Spokane League champion, and its senior leader, would not be denied.

Reigning GSL 4A/3A MVP and all-state guard Teryn Gardner scored a career-high 36 points and hit six 3-pointers on Mead's senior night to lift the Panthers over the Bullpups 82-57 for Mead's third consecutive league title.

Freshman Aylah Cornwall led Gonzaga Prep with 16 points and junior Olivia McIntyre added 14.

Well after the outcome was no longer in doubt, Gardner nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing with about 4 minutes left in the game — right in front of the Mead student section — to set her personal record.

"I knew I was close late but didn't know how much," Gardner said. "I wanted that career high and it was awesome to get it tonight on senior night and share it with this team."

Mead (19-1, 9-0), ranked No. 1 in 3A by the state media poll, finished 27-0 in league over Gardner's three years on varsity.

"We come in here and work hard every day and just want to win every game," Gardner said. "We put all we have into every game. To be able to go undefeated in league play — that's just something I never would have dreamed of. And it's really awesome to be able to accomplish that, especially with these girls and these seniors alongside me."

"Pretty impressive," Mead coach Quantae Anderson said, before adding that he hasn't contemplated what life will be like without Gardner next season.

"We're staying in the moment. We're staying where we are," he said. "We've got Mt. Spokane on Tuesday. And we're doing everything we can to make this last as long as we can make it. So I haven't thought about any of that. I'm not worried about that. We're just worried about practice tomorrow."

"We're happy with where we are, but we're not content," Gardner said. "I think we're in a good spot right now, but we still have a lot of room for improvement and a lot of potential."

Anderson was overcome talking about his senior's performance.

"She's our leader and no matter what, every game we always know we have a chance with her," he said. "I was just super, super proud of her — she played darn near 32 minutes again and the best part about it today, I felt like she was a better passer (than shooter). She found the open girl and cut to the hoop and then out for 3s. She just keeps getting better every day and we love that about her."

Anderson called up two seniors off of junior varsity to start on senior night. Whether that had anything to do with it, G-Prep (15-4, 7-1) jumped out to a 14-7 start, with 6-foot-3 Gillian Bears scoring the Bullpups' first six points, all from under the basket.

"With the emotions of senior night, I knew that it's gonna take us a little bit of time," Anderson said. "But once we got going, we got going."

The Panthers raced back, with Gardner and Caroline Spink (10 points) hitting 3-pointers, as Mead led 19-16 after one quarter.

"Taryn hit some big shots in that first quarter. That really kept us going," Anderson said. "And the defense kind of fueled it. Once we started boxing out and getting rebounds, we were able to run and then we got in a rhythm to shoot. It was awesome."

Gardner scored the first nine points of the second quarter to stretch the lead to 12. Gardner hit from NBA range later in the quarter, Gracie Wenkheimer hit a pair from distance and Mead took a 21-point lead into the half.

"She's hitting like 50% from 3 this year," Anderson said of Wenkheimer. "Those two were so clutch and we needed we needed them to help with that run."

"They get on you so fast," Gonzaga Prep coach Geoff Arte said. "Like, it was a close game and the all of a sudden it wasn't. They can do that. That's why they're the No. 1 team in the state."

G-Prep used an 8-3 run at the start of the third quarter to bite into the deficit a bit, but Gardner hit a pair of 3s and the Panthers led 53-35 at the 4-minute mark. Gardner had 10 points in the quarter and Mead led 60-39 entering the fourth.

"We were all energetic. Our bench was energetic," Gardner said. "We were working together as a team. We found the open girl, we found the open shots and we just finished them."

"They make everything so hard — offense, defense," Arte said. "They guard you hard, they make you tired. I'd be more surprised that they're not holding the (state championship) gold ball up than if they aren't."

Once the lead hit 30 with 3 minutes left, Anderson brought seniors Olivia Paul and Megan Doud back out to finish the game.

"They play for the love of the game," Anderson said of his seniors. "And for the love of their friends and their teammates, and that's literally the absolute best. I'm just super happy that they're a part of this program and they want to do what they're doing."