Ferris went into its Greater Spokane League regular-season boys basketball finale Thursday night not knowing next week’s District 8 4A tournament status.
But the young team approached visiting Mt. Spokane with an understanding.
“We had to come out and get a win no matter what,” said junior Jason Bates, “and that we had to control our own destiny.”
Lewis and Clark and Mead (both 11-9) took away a measure of the Saxons’ control with victories that secured for them a share of third place with North Central and determined playoff pairings.
The Panthers are second seed in the tournament and will host the Tigers on Tuesday at 7:15 in double-elimination play.
The Saxons (10-10), who prevailed 56-44 over the Wildcats, host Central Valley Monday in a loser-out contest with the victor advancing Tuesday against GSL champion Gonzaga Prep (18-2).
Coach Don Van Lierop said it would have been nice to be in the double-elimination portion of the tournament right away, but he told a team made up primarily of sophomores, juniors and a smattering of freshmen, that it’s a new season.
“It will be an exciting district,” he said. “It will be fun next week.”
Ferris 56, Mt. Spokane 44: Youth was served at Ferris this year. Bates, who is a junior, hit three 3-pointers that got the team off and winging against the Wildcats (7-12).
But on Senior Night it was fitting that lone senior Justin Stewart led the victory.
“Stewart had to come out big,” Bates said.
He scored 18 points, 11 in the first half. The Saxons took an early 15-7 lead on two Bates 3-pointers and another by Riley Stockton.
“I had open looks,” said Bates. “We worked on it in practice.”
After squandering most of it, Stewart scored twice, including a 3-pointer and they grew the advantage to 33-18 into halftime. Stewart scored twice more in the third quarter as the lead extended to 44-21.
“It was neat that on Senior Night he played that well,” said Van Lierop.
Ferris slowed the pace in the fourth quarter and saw the lead melt to 52-41 with 2 minutes, 50 seconds left to play before getting back under control on Jordan Tonani free throws.
Mead 47, Shadle Park 45: The prospect of sorting out a four-way tie for playoff positioning loomed before the night began.
In one of two thrillers, the Panthers eliminated the possibility by defeating the GSL runner-up Highlanders (16-4) for the second time this year, winning the pair by a total of five points.
Grant Fink hit a deep 3-pointer with less than a minute to play to tie the game and Shadle Park held the ball for the last shot.
But Fink stripped Anthony Brown, ran down the court and hit a lay-in, under duress, as the buzzer sounded.
Fink scored 24 points, more than half Mead’s total. He had 14 in the first half – Mead trailed 23-20 at intermission – and seven in the decisive fourth quarter. Brown scored 18 for Shadle.
Lewis and Clark 51, Rogers 50: In the other thriller, Levi Taylor penetrated into the lane and passed to Sean Hoffmann who hit the winner with 4.5 seconds remaining. Hoffmann finished with 18 points. The visiting Pirates (8-11) trailed by seven points entering the final quarter, but rallied to tie. They made a total of eight 3-pointers by six different players in the game and missed a 25-footer at the buzzer.
Central Valley 56, East Valley 42: Alex Howard hit all five of his second-half shots and scored 12 of 16 points to help the visiting Bears (10-10) pull away from the Knights (4-16).
Gonzaga Prep 55, North Central 48: Ryan Nicholas scored 19 points and the visiting Bullpups (18-2) rallied past the Indians (11-9) in the second half. David Stockton’s steal put Prep ahead by three with a minute left.