KENNEWICK – Andre Jennings scored the first and last baskets of the first half with a couple in between on Friday to help propel Ferris into its third straight 4A boys Eastern Regional basketball final and seventh since 1999.
The Saxons (24-0) rolled past Greater Spokane League foe Mead 72-58 in a physical, race-horse game.
They’ll play for the championship in Toyota Center at 5 p.m. against Pasco, a 56-44 victor over Eisenhower.
In the other game between GSL teams, Shadle Park overcame a big early deficit to eliminate Gonzaga Prep 59-57. Shadle (17-9) faces Mead (18-6) at 1 p.m. for the right to play for the region’s third state berth at 7.
Ferris 72, Mead 58: The teams went at each other full bore from the outset, but in the final 4:42 of the first half, the Saxons outscored the Panthers 15-5 to stretch a four-point lead into a 33-19 halftime advantage.
Jennings, one more example of Ferris’ depth, had the final five points of the half for the Saxons, hitting a 3-pointer with 40 seconds left. He had opened the game with a basket and scored again as the teams went back and forth through the first quarter.
“Coach has just been believing in me and telling me to be more offensive minded, and I can make those shots I make in practice,” Jennings said. “He said we’re going to need you and I just went out to give the team a push.”
Besides Jennings’ nine in the first half, DeAngelo Casto scored 11 and Shawn Stockton got his offense untracked following a recent lull.
Mead battled behind the offensive efforts of Ben Loewen and Brendan Ingebritsen, closing to within eight points early in the fourth quarter. They combined for 40 of the Panthers’ points, Ingebritsen getting 22.
But with every charge, Stockton would answer, finishing with a team-high 21. The Saxons scored their final 16 points at the free-throw line.
“I told him we needed him back in the scoring mix,” said coach Don Van Lierop.
Casto finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds, Jennings had 10 points.
“We were tentative on offense in the first half,” said Mead coach Glenn Williams. “I wish we had come out more like we have been playing lately. And they just killed us at the free-throw line in the second half, so tip your hats to them.”
Thus, the Saxons qualified for state and play for their second regional championship in a row, while the Panthers battle the Highlanders.
“Mead did some good things and I was proud of our guys,” said Van Lierop. “That’s a sign of a good team that we could withstand some runs.”
Shadle 59, G-Prep 57: The Highlanders found themselves behind after a quarter and trailed 27-14 with 5 minutes left in the half when they discovered another gear against the Bullpups (13-12).
Beau Azadganian had fueled G-Prep’s hot start and hit a 3-pointer at the 3:18 mark for a 30-20 lead before Shadle made up all but three points before intermission. Zack Humphrey capped the run with one of his three 3-pointers. He finished with 19 points.
In the second half, sophomore Anthony Brown and freshman Aaron Dunn took command, both scoring 11 of their 15 points. Dunn’s basket with 1:28 left put the Highlanders ahead for good 57-55 and Leo Avila added two free throws with 3 seconds left to secure the win.
Shadle took a lead right after intermission and the biggest advantage by either team thereafter was four points. G-Prep went up 48-44 early in the fourth quarter on 3-pointers by Michael Stockton and Michael Alexander.
Brown made three free throws and Dunn scored to regain the advantage and the teams were tied at 55 before Dunn’s go-ahead basket.
Azadganian scored 21 points and Michael Stockton 14 as their Bullpups careers ended.