Relieved, coach Jeff Beasley stayed seated with his head buried in his hands as Byron Humphrey soared through the air, bounding to the mob scene on the Coliseum court in front of the Adna bench.
For the second time in little more than a minute, the Pirates had beaten Almira/ Coulee-Hartline to reach the semifinals of the boys State B basketball tournament.
And this time it counted.
Fooling those who had their eyes glued on Adna 7-footer Jeff Ellis, Humphrey lobbed a long, cross-court pass to his brother, Joel, who laid the ball into the basket just before time expired as the second-ranked Pirates edged the No. 7 Warriors 57-56 in the quarterfinals Thursday afternoon.
“Your three coaches went from goats to, ‘You guys are heroes,”’ Beasley told the Pirates in the locker room.
With Cameron Carstensen scoring 12 points, the Warriors rallied from 13 down entering the fourth quarter to take a 56-55 lead on the 5-foot-10 sophomore’s 15-footer from the left wing with 14 seconds left.
The ball was inbounded to Sean Burdick, who dribbled quickly down the right sideline focused on the basket, oblivious to the pleas for a timeout. Just before Burdick released a 35-foot push shot, a referee’s whistle clearly sounded to grant the timeout, and then the basketball swished through the net.
New life for ACH, which had trailed since Adna started a 14-0 run with 1:50 left in the first half and led Beasley to say, “If the last play wouldn’t have worked I would have felt like a complete pancake.”
It seemed obvious the inbounds play would be designed for the 7-foot Ellis, who was posted low on the far side of the key. After the referee handed the ball to Byron Humphrey, Ellis broke across the key, but he kept coming. That’s when everyone connected with ACH knew they that been fooled.
With Ellis clearing out, Joel Humphrey broke backdoor off a screen to haul in the pass from his brother.
“I put the blame for that game on me,” ACH coach Jim Wacker said. “I should have put us in a zone. I should’ve called timeout (when I recognized the play), but by the time I saw it, boom.”
“I hoped ACH was going to be in a manto-man,” Beasley said. “If they had gone zone, it would have been tough.”
But it was man-to-man that got them there by forcing six turnovers in the fourth quarter, four that led to baskets.
“We went to our full-court run and jump (press),” Wacker said. “I didn’t think we were playing that intense of defense. That’s one of the things we do to get us to pick up our intensity. They didn’t handle it that good and they’re a good team.”
With Carstensen leading the charge back, Mike Brown did everything he could to save the Pirates. He scored Adna’s first two baskets of the fourth quarter for a 51-40 lead with 5:40 to play.
Brown finished with 16 points and five assists, a day after being limited to four firstquarter points against Kittitas.