Sometimes when two highly-ranked teams face off in the regular season the outcome doesn’t end up as appealing as the matchup.
This one lived up to the billing.
Visiting Ferris overcame a 10-point second-half deficit on Friday to force overtime with a buzzer-beater at the end of regulation, but Gonzaga Prep showed patience and executed its offense in overtime to take a 61-57 decision and stay undefeated and alone at the top of the Greater Spokane League standings – and, most likely, the state’s rating system.
The Bullpups (16-0, 10-0) came in rated No. 1 in WIAA’s state 4A RPI, while Ferris (13-3, 7-3) was No. 5.
Anton Watson led G-Prep’s balanced attack with 17 points. Jamaari Jones had 15 points and Sam Lockett added 14.
Shamrock Campbell paced Ferris with 20 points and Michael Ervin had 16.
“We expected their best shot,” Gonzaga Prep coach Matty McIntyre said. “We know that (Ferris) kids are very competitive. I have lot of respect for what they do and how talented they are. It was kind of a grind-it-out game all the way through and it could have went either way.”
“We knew they were going to come out with fire and try to attack us,” Jones added.
“It didn’t end like we wanted it to but we’re going to keep working,” Ferris coach Sean Mallon said. “We’ve got room to grow and we’re not going to let this thing get us down. We’re going to keep working.”
Gonzaga Prep built a 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, but Ferris used a quick five-point run to cut it to 53-48 with 3:19 left.
Campbell hit a short jumper to trim it to three. Gonzaga Prep worked the ball around the perimeter to work to clock, but Jacob Parola’s floater rimmed out.
At the other end, Campbell drove the lane against Watson and got an off-balance layup to bank in with 17.7 seconds left to make it a one-point game.
On the inbound play, Damian Carter fouled Watson with 8.2 seconds to go. Watson made the first of his 1-and-1 but missed the second.
Ferris rushed it upcourt and Ervin’s jumper from the corner rattled around until it fell to even the score and force overtime.
Midway through the extra session, Watson kept a possession alive with a tipped offensive rebound and Jones came up with an second on the same possession and fed Watson for a two-handed jam to put Prep up 58-55.
McIntyre was proud of the effort on that sequence. “I thought Anton made a great effort to tip the ball out to get us the possession then Jamaari got the second offensive rebound and was able to throw it back to Anton.
“A lot of that is just being alert. A lot of that is putting yourself in a position to get an opportunity.”
Campbell answered at the other end to put it back to one then was fouled and had a chance to tie it but missed the front end of his 1-and-1. G-Prep worked the clock again and then ran a play inside for Jones. His layup with 53 seconds made it 60-57.
“Jamaari did a great job of presenting himself along the baseline,” McIntyre said. “He went strong and finished at the backboard aggressively.
“Ultimately, we have faith in a lot of guys that we can go to. When we run sets and plays it’s not always designed to go tot one person – it’s to get a couple of options. Jamaari happened to be the guy available.”
“From the beginning of the season they’ve had confidence in me and let me just play my game,” Jones said. “I took that as a compliment of how my game is.”
After another Ferris miss, Liam Lloyd was fouled for a pair of free throws. He made the second to make it a four-point game with 25.1 seconds left.
Ferris got into its set quickly but lost the ball out of bounds on the baseline to turn it over with 13.2 seconds. The Saxons immediately fouled Watson, but he missed both free throw to keep Ferris alive.
The Saxons rushed off a pair of shots in the waning second but couldn’t come up with another game-extending play.
“They’re a good team and we have to give them respect,” Watson said. “They’ve got a good offense. They’ve got Shamrock who can make a basket when they need it. We just relied on our defense and rebounding and that’s what it came down to at the end.”
Ferris was coming off dramatic 44-42 loss to Lewis and Clark on Tuesday, but showed it was up to the task right off the bat. Ervin drilled a 3-pointer on the Saxons’ first possession and his floater in the lane a few moments later put the Saxons up three early.
Reece Van Lierop and Campbell made back-to-back 3s at the end of the first quarter and Ferris led 21-15 after one.
“I wanted our kids to come out after our game Tuesday and have an aggressive attacking mentality and that’s what they did,” Mallon said.
The Bullpups got a quick 3 at the start of the second by Noah Drynan. Ferris’ McCoy Spink lobbed in a long 3-pointer, Campbell got loose inside for a bucket and Ervin added a layup and Ferris took its biggest lead of the half at 30-22.
Prep turned to its defense. On the press, Parola came up with steals on back-to-back possessions. He went the distance for a layup off the first theft and on the second his layup attempt bounced out but Lockett followed it up to cut the deficit to three, 30-27, at intermission.
Ferris made six 3-pointers in the first half and Campbell paced all scorers with 12 points.
The Bullpups took their first lead since 2-0 midway through the third quarter. Jones muscled his way in for a layup and converted the ensuing free throw to tie it at 34, then Watson added a free throw to put Prep up.
With just over 2 minutes left in the quarter, Gonzaga Prep went to a zone with Watson up top. He came up with a steal and went the length with a strong wind-up jam that put the Pups up 39-36.
G-Prep then worked it inside to Jones again, who picked up another contested layup, then Lockett used a pump-fake to open up a baseline shot and his jumper made it 43-38 at the end of the frame.
At the start of the fourth, Lockett buried a 3 as the shot clock was expiring and the Pups opened an eight-point lead. Another Lockett 3 a few moments later gave the Bullpups their biggest lead at 53-43.
“These close ones are always fun to play,” Jones said. “You don’t like the games that are blowouts – they don’t get you better. When we play (close games) we have a lot to learn from, a lot to fix. But we still got the dub.”
Around the GSL
Central Valley 63, University 60: Jase Edwards hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime, and the Bears (8-8, 6-4) rallied past the Titans (7-9, 2-8) in their “Stinky Sneaker” rivalry game at the Spokane Arena.
Zachary Stocker knocked down five triples to lead CV with 26, while Edwards scored 18 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Tanner Christensen led U-Hi with 19 points, while Cam Cavanaugh made 9 of 10 free throws and finished with 18 points.
Lewis and Clark 74, Mead 56: Naje Smith scored 23 points and the visiting No. 10-rated Tigers (10-6, 7-3) defeated the Panthers (3-13, 1-10). Tyson Rogalette led Mead with 20 points, including five three-point baskets.
Mt. Spokane 67, Rogers 34: Tanner Brooks scored 18 points and the visiting No. 18-rated Wildcats (13-3, 7-2) defeated the Pirates (7-9, 3-5). Jahlil Franz led the Pirates with nine points.