Hailey Van Lith

Cashmere's Hailey Van Lith drives to the basket in a state semifinal game in Yakima on March 1, 2019. Van Lith has seen many different defenses against her over the years. 

CASHMERE — Expect another packed house at Ron Doane Gym in Cashmere on Friday night as the 3A Mount Spokane Wildcats come to play the 1A Cashmere Bulldogs. Mount Spokane is 4-1 on the season, ranked sixth in the 3A state RPI, while Cashmere is 2-0, ranked first in the 1A state RPI.

Last year, Mount Spokane beat Cashmere 67-56. Cashmere Head Coach Brent Darnell is thankful the Wildcats want to come play at Cashmere.

“It’s hard to find good, competitive games against bigger schools. They are a really good team again but different,” Darnell said. “They are really long. We broke some film down on them. We went over some responsibilities and assignments. They start four 6-footers. They are long and athletic. They have a little bit of everything.”

The Wildcats can get out and play fast and have three or four girls that can shoot the three really well, Darnell said.

Senior Jayda Noble (6-0), a transfer from Medical Lake, has already signed with the University of Washington.

Darnell said they are going to be a load to handle.

“It’s going to be a great, exciting non-league game. It’s a great preseason game for us. It will just make us better. Win or lose, whatever comes out of that game, it will make us better,” he said. “I know their coach really well. He likes coming to our gym. Very rarely do you get a home and home with a team, especially coming from Spokane. He loved our atmosphere in Cashmere.”

Darnell said he has a lot of respect for teams that will play them in Cashmere, where they have a big home-court advantage.

A lot of bigger schools do not want to play smaller schools, because it is a no-win.

If you win, you are a bully. If you lose, you are a chump, he said. It’s always a challenge on any team that has great post play and great shooters around them, Darnell noted, because it limits how you defend the post.

“When teams have those good bigs down low and they can shoot on the perimeter, which is a nightmare to defend,” he said. “It’s easier when you don’t have to worry about anyone down low. They have both and they are athletic. They can defend. Sometimes great offensive teams don’t get credit for how they play defense. Mt. Spokane can defend.”

When in comes to defending Cashmere star Hailey Van Lith, Darnell said they have seen everything over the years, double team, box-and-one.

“We’ve seen all kinds of different defenses. She’s seen all kinds of different defenses,” Darnell said. “Sometimes I think teams try to do the best they can defending Hailey and try to take others away. Our team has gotten better with others scoring. They are figuring out where to score when Hailey gets doubled.”

When the other girls chip in 8-10 points, Darnell said they are really tough. To beat Mount Spokane, they must come out and defend the best they can, making every shot tough.

“In a game like this, I could care less how we beat them. As long as we have more points at the end, I’ll be happy,” he said.

Cashmere only lost three games last season, one of those was against Mount Spokane, which finished second in state.

The Bulldogs lost twice last season to LaSalle, but they’ve already beaten them this season, by 20 points.

Ian Dunn: 664-7157