Central Valley’s triangle-and-two defense was designed to limit the Greater Spokane League’s leading scorer, Anton Watson, and Gonzaga Prep point guard Kea Vargas.
So when Sam Lockett found himself all alone behind the 3-point line with the Bullpups trailing and 80 seconds remaining, he had to shoot.
Lockett made the 3-pointer, giving Gonzaga Prep the lead for good but the drama-filled, physical game was still far from over.
Still, the top-seeded Bullpups (21-1) escaped with a 54-52 win in the 4A subregional and advance to the championship game Friday at Richland (17-4), a 64-57 winner over Ferris.
CV (16-6) plays host to Lewis and Clark (14-9) in a loser-out game Tuesday at 6.
Gonzaga Prep 54, Central Valley 52: Suffice to say there were too many possessions in the final 1:20 to document here. And then the clock seemed to be stalled at 3 seconds for at least 5 minutes of real time and four possessions and a handful of timeouts.
Shane Eugenio made a free throw with 3 seconds to go to give G-Prep a 54-51 lead.
Then after each team took a timeout – with CV advancing the ball from out of bounds to midcourt without the clock budging – G-Prep purposely fouled the Bears’ Billy Ames with, you guessed it, 3 seconds remaining.
Ames made the first and missed the second, and when the clock finally moved it seemed like it took longer than 3 seconds to expire.
At least from G-Prep coach Matty McIntyre’s view from the other end of the court.
The ball bounced around and a no-look shot hit the side of the backboard as time finally ran out.
“It was a grind-it-out game,” McIntyre said. “We anticipated that. I was proud of the way the kids responded in the face of adversity. We haven’t had a lot of experience there (close games). When the plays had to be made the kids came through.”
CV played a terrific game and if wins were based on strategy and defensive execution the Bears put up a good argument for a victory.
In the end, though, G-Prep found a way to grind it out – despite making just 15 of 29 foul shots.
“We took them lightly when we got to the line,” Vargas said. “We weren’t focused. Something we’re going to have to work on if we want to keep winning.”
It was a game that if a fan blinked, something would have been missed.
“The physicality was definitely there for both of us,” Vargas said. “Both teams really wanted it.”
CV did many good things to build a 29-25 lead by halftime.
After G-Prep used all but a minute of the intermission in its locker room, the Bullpups came out on fire after shooting 9 of 27 from the field in the first half.
The Bullpups made their first three 3-point attamps, taking the lead and going ahead 36-31.
But CV stopped G-Prep’s momentum, and a 3-pointer with 1:30 to go in the quarter by Ryan Rehkow gave the Bears a 42-39 lead going into the fourth.
Shane Eugenio led G-Prep with 12 points and Watson and Vargas had 11 each. Rehkow led CV with 16 and Zach Stocker had 14. Jase Edwards had seven assists.
Richland 64, Ferris 57: The visiting Saxons trailed 30-17 at halftime and couldn’t recover. Ferris travels to Walla Walla (10-10) on Tuesday in a loser-out game. Michael Ervin led Ferris with 29 points.
Lewis and Clark 76, Chiawana 48: Four Tigers scored in double figures in the win in Pasco. Cameron Underwood led with 16 points, Naje Smith had 15, Griffin Effenberger had 11 and Diedrick Pakootas added 10. LC goes to CV in a loser-out game Tuesday.
Shadle Park 60, North Central 37: The Highlanders (17-4) cruised to victory over the visiting Indians (4-18). Tanner Groves led Shadle with 23 points and Andreas Brown added 17. Shadle visits Kamiakin (18-3) on Thursday in the regional title game. Leon Sayes led NC with 14. NC goes to Mt. Spokane on Thursday in a loser-out game.
Kamiakin 57, Mt. Spokane 44: The Braves held off the visiting Wildcats (9-13). Jerry Swenge led Mt. Spokane with 19 points and Phalon Maddox added 12. Mt. Spokane plays host to NC in a loser-out game Thursday.