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Leigh leads Spokane back to Marionville Tournament championship game


MARIONVILLE — With Spokane featuring a new starting backcourt that doesn’t include a senior, sophomore guard Ricky Riott has a good idea what a scouting report on the Owls is going to include.

“A lot of people are going to press us,” Riott said.

Spokane indeed was vulnerable against Southwest’s full-court pressure Thursday. But the Owls eventually solved the press and picked up a 54-39 victory.

Spokane (3-1) committed just one turnover over the final 11 minutes to make it to the Marionville Tournament championship game for the third straight season.

The Owls nearly blew a 28-15 halftime lead by turning the ball over six times in the first four-plus minutes of the third quarter. Southwest pulled to within six points, 33-27.

Spokane coach Terry Writer called two timeouts in the first three minutes of the second half.

“We got too excited and we were playing the game too fast,” guard Jace Leigh said. “A lot of times, it’s better for us to slow the game down and get the ball where we need to. Other teams are going to have good pressure like that and we need to handle the pressure. It was good to see that, get used to it and know what we have to do. This game makes me have confidence when we go into other games and see pressure.”

“We got a little scared, freaked out and went too fast,” Riott said. “Once we slowed things down, we got their press figured out. We have to get used to the press, so it was a great experience.”

A scouting report on Spokane also figures to spotlight Leigh’s prowess from the 3-point line. He burned Southwest for a handful of treys en route to 19 points. The junior point guard netted 17 points in an opening-round win over Hurley.

“I’ve been more consistent scoring than I thought I would be,” Leigh said. “When (center JD Tate) has been kicking out to me, I’ve had confidence in my shot.”

Riott and forward Jaden McCoy both had a pair of 3-pointers. Tate complemented the Owls’ perimeter scoring by netting 17 points.

Spokane will meet Seymour in the final at 4 p.m. Saturday.

SOUTHWEST (39) — Marquez 7 2-4 18, Brooks 1 0-0 2, Uthe 5 0-1 10, Corwin 1 1-4 3, Pippen 1 2-4 4, Paulson 1 0-0 2.

SPOKANE (54) — Leigh 6 2-2 19, Wasson 1 0-0 2, McCoy 4 0-0 10, Riott 2 0-0 6, Tate 7 3-7 17.

Southwest  7  8  14 10 - 39

Spokane   18 10 13 13 - 54

3-point goals - Leigh 5, Marquez 2, McCoy 2, Riott 2.