Sometimes in a high school boys basketball game, all it takes is one big run.
In Friday night’s showdown for second place in the Greater Spokane League at Gonzaga Prep, that’s all it took for University High.
And it didn’t even take the Titans’ stars.
A 16-1 stretch early in the second quarter proved to be decisive as U-Hi outlasted the Bullpups 62-54, raising its GSL record to 10-3 (12-3 overall), a game behind front-running Central Valley with five games left.
“We’re really deep,” said Titans coach Garrick Phillips, whose team got 18 points from its bench, including 12 from Zane McDonald.
“I have a lot of starters. We’ve had a lot of different lineups and I have a lot of guys contributing.”
The Titans needed their bench as the second quarter began because they were saddled with fouls. Starters Zach Bruce (three) and Connor Johnson (two) were sitting when G-Prep’s Reed Hopkins hit a 5-footer to give the Bullpups a 16-14 lead.
A minute later U-Hi led 20-16, the final bucket in the small run coming on Jared Miller”s fastbreak layup.
G-Prep coach Matty McIntyre called timeout.
Phillips subbed out leading scorer Brett Bailey, who already had nine of his game-high 22 points, giving the 6-foot-5 junior a rest.
And the Titans scored 10 of the game’s next 11 points.
“We needed to continue to be aggressive offensively, and the guys who came in off the bench got that message,” Phillips said.
McIntyre, whose team dropped to 9-4 in league (9-6 overall), saw it differently.
“The first half the tempo was not in our favor,” McIntyre said. “We didn’t take care of the ball like we should have, which led to fastbreak opportunities. Even some of our shot selections led to some fastbreak opportunities for them as well.”
With a 10-point halftime lead, the Titans relied on Bailey to take them home.
“He stepped up huge,” Phillips said. “He”s such a tough guard for the opponent because he’s so long and he can shoot it really well on the perimeter.”
Not only did Bailey make nearly every big shot, he also was nearly unstoppable on the offensive glass, getting hands on ball after ball to keep possessions alive.
“We got out hands on a lot of offensive boards,” Phillips said.
“Gosh, I think we got beat up on the rebounds pretty much tonight, which certainly didn’t happen in the first game,” McIntyre said, referring to the Bullpups’ 54-48 win at U-Hi earlier this month.
It wasn’t Bailey, however, who made the Titans’ biggest second-half play after TJ Bracey, who finished with a game-high 13 points, had led the Bullpups back with six.
It was, appropriately enough, one of their reserves.
With just less than 5 minutes remaining and U-Hi up 52-46, Cojo Smith saw the shot clock winding down, drove to the hoop and scored as the buzzer sounded. The Bullpups didn’t get within six again until the final seconds.
“A poor closeout led to penetration,” McIntyre said of the play. “That was pretty much the theme of the evening.”
That’s exactly how Phillips wanted it.
“We had to match their aggressiveness,” he said. “They’re a really, really good defensive team. … To be able to stay in a semblance of an offense and take care of the ball, I thought we had more turnovers than we should have, but I thought we took pretty high-quality shots.”
Central Valley 75, North Central 61: Adam Chamberlain scored 14 points and Beau Byus added 12 as the first-place Bears (12-3, 11-2) topped the host Indians (3-12, 3-10).
Central Valley dominated down low, outrebounding North Central 28-9.
Brad Pelton had 15 points and Chase McDuffie added 11 for the Indians.
Ferris 55, Shadle Park 51: The Saxons (11-4, 9-4) rallied in the second half and moved into a tie with G-Prep for third place with a win over the visiting Highlanders (9-6, 7-6).
Chris Wilson led Ferris’ comeback, scoring all 17 of his points after halftime.
Chase Haack added 12 points and 11 boards for the Saxons, who trailed by 11 points at the half. Brett Boese led Shadle Park with 24 points and 14 rebounds.
Rogers 61, Lewis and Clark 53: The Pirates (5-9, 4-9) took control in the fourth and topped the host Tigers (9-6, 7-6).
Aaron Highbarger had 15 points and Carson Murray added 14 for Rogers, which made four 3s and 7 of 10 free throws in the fourth.
Jeff Livingston had 15 points and Austin Damon had 14 points and 15 rebounds for Lewis and Clark.
Mead 57, Mt. Spokane 48: Forrest Baker scored 13 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Panthers (3-12, 3-10) recovered from a slow start and beat the host Wildcats (3-12, 2-11).
The Panthers trailed 19-7 after the first quarter but took control over the next three quarters.
Stu Stiles scored 22 points and Jordan Weems added 10 for Mt. Spokane.