The play was designed to go to Cody Benzel.
The play wasn’t designed for the Ferris senior shooter to have to make a twisting, turning jump shot while being pushed.
Benzel made an awkward 9-footer to break a 63-all tie with 27 seconds remaining to lift the Saxons past the visiting Mead Panthers 67-63 in a well-played Greater Spokane League boys basketball game Friday.
“We had to get a shot because the (shot clock) was going down,” Benzel said. “I just turned around, jumped and threw it up there and it went in. I was getting pushed and I caught it. I wasn’t really able to turn around because my feet were messed up. I jumped and did a 180 and put it up there.”
Benzel, who had 29 and 23 points in the Saxons’ first two games, finished with 16 hard-earned points and six rebounds. He made both ends of a one-and-one with 7 seconds remaining to finish off the scoring.
For most of the game, Mead used a box-and-one on Benzel, usually guarding him with Thomas Kautzman and zoning the other four Saxons.
“I knew that Cody was going to be face-guarded hard so I had to step up and make some points to help our team win,” said Ferris senior guard Matt Belles, who had a season-high 21 points, 19 coming in the first half.
With the Panthers (2-2, 1-1) guarding Benzel closely, Belles had a nice start – one that the Saxons (3-0, 3-0) needed. He made 5 of 7 3-point shots in the first half.
After a slow start, Mead got going quickly midway through the first quarter. A basket by Brenden Johnson gave the Panthers a 23-19 lead going into the second quarter.
A 10-1 run gave Mead its biggest lead at 33-24 with 4:31 to go before halftime.
But the Saxons fought back. Belles hit three of his 3-pointers in the final 4:12 as Ferris pulled into a 38-all tie by halftime.
The Saxons’ 6-foot-9 senior post Jensen Rye, strapped with foul trouble in the first half, got a dunk and made two free throws to give Ferris its biggest margin at 51-43 midway through the third.
Mead cut it to 53-50 going into the final period.
A basket inside by Rye off an assist from Cole Karstetter allowed Ferris to open another eight-point lead at 61-53 with 3:48 to go. But the Panthers didn’t go away, using back-to-back steals off a press and a 3-pointer by Will McPhee and a basket by Anthony Gold to pull even at 63-63 before Benzel finished off the Panthers.
“We’re going to have some games like this when we’re not playing the best but we have to come through as a unit,” Benzel said. “I thought we did that tonight.”
McPhee led Mead with 22 points. He made 5 of 7 3-pointers. Brandon Pettersen had 12 points and Kautzman had 11 to go with six rebounds.
Karstetter had six assists and six rebounds.
University 74, Lewis and Clark 62: The visiting Tigers (1-4, 0-3) were no match for the Titans (2-1) in the middle quarters. Robert Little led U-Hi with 23 points and eight rebounds. He made 5 of 9 3-pointers. Michael Isoltalo added 14. Connor Hojnacki led LC with 23 points and six 3s.
Gonzaga Prep 83, Rogers 57: Four Bullpups reached double-figure scoring in a runaway at Rogers. Reed Hopkins scored 14 of his 23 points in the first quarter to lead G-Prep (2-1), Ryan Alexander had 15, Jamil Foster 14 and Brendon McClary 13. Trysten Carl led Rogers (0-4, 0-3) with 18 points, Robert Rucker had 13 and Dominic Sanders added 10. G-Prep opened a 44-27 lead by halftime.
Mt. Spokane 53, North Central 35: No details were reported.