Statement win sends Wildcats to championship game

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Photo by AriAna McDonald Tyler Gibbons fires a no-look pass over the head of a Priest River defender.


Staff Reporter

Not every David and Goliath story ends with the little guy overcoming the odds, in fact it happens to be quite the opposite.

And Monday night’s game between Kellogg and Priest River was no different.

The Spartans were heavy underdogs, the Wildcats were bigger, stronger, and faster, and as hard as the Spartans played, the Wildcats were a ruthless and relentless wave that was simply irresistible as they ran away with a 67-14 win to advance to Wednesday’s district championship.

In their first two meetings the Wildcats won by a combined 59 points, and if not for the 30-point running clock rule, they likely would have eclipsed that on Monday night, but the story of the game isn’t just that the Wildcats won big, it was how they did it that was so impressive.

The game opened fairly slow, as the Wildcats saw a few forced passes turn into sloppy turnovers, but then things tightened up after reserve guard Hogan Samuelson came into the game and scored a quick six points to push the Cats to a 14-0 first quarter lead.

The second quarter wasn’t much more competitive, despite the Spartans finally finding the scoring column, but the Wildcats used a barrage of defensive plays and fast breaks to put this game to bed before the halftime horn even sounded.

Nasty, gritty, take no prisoners-style defense.

The game was perfectly summed up in one sequence of events.

Late in the second quarter, a Priest River guard found a rare opening in the Kellogg defense and was able to score the Spartans first 2-points of the game.

Immediately following that, Wildcat Tanner Mueller took an outlet pass, sprinted down court, and with a Spartan defender desperately trying to stop him, Mueller flushed a one-handed dunk on his thoroughly overmatched opponent.

In a matter of seconds the smallest glimmer of hope had been snuffed out and the Wildcats took a 42-3 halftime lead.

The second half played out very similarly, but with the Wildcats easing off the defensive side of things only slightly, and allowing their entire bench to get some quality minutes.

“I think we played pretty good on the defensive side of the ball,” Kellogg coach Jeff Nearing said. “I don’t use this word much, but right now our guys are playing with some real swagger. We have a lot of kids playing really good ball for us right now and I can’t imagine that being a problem that too many coaches would complain about.”

Every Wildcat found the their way into the box score, but it was Chase Jerome who came out of the fray as the leading scorer, notching 12 points in the win.

The Wildcats will mix it up with the Timberlake Tigers in the District I championship game and a shot at a state tournament berth at North Idaho College at 6:15 p.m.

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