Turnabout was fair play for Lewis and Clark boys basketball, playing at Mead for the second time in a week.
On Feb. 10, the Tigers (12-9) were outscored 17-9 in the first quarter and lost 55-42 – which gave Mead home court for the first-round District 8 4A playoff game.
Tuesday, LC outscored the Panthers (11-10) 19-8 in the first quarter and wound up a 59-55 victor, winning for the first time in three tries against their foe.
“Last week they punched us in the mouth and we didn’t respond,” coach Jeff Norton said of the previous loss. “This time we punched them in the mouth – figuratively, of course.”
Mead, however, did get off the canvas in the form of Erik Hansen and wiped out the early 11-point deficit. The Panthers led briefly early in the third quarter.
But when LC needed to right its ship, the answer was there in Sean Hoffmann. The 6-foot-7 post scored at every juncture when called upon, finishing with 21 points, including making 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute to hold Mead, which had tied the game at 51, at bay.
The victory advances the Tigers into the district championship game at 7:15 p.m. Thursday at Gonzaga Prep. The Bullpups (19-2) were a 64-49 victor over Ferris (10-11) in the other district game.
The winner qualifies for regionals and will host a team from the Columbia Basin Big Nine next week.
Mead will host Ferris, also at 7:15 Thursday, for the right to continue in the tournament. That winner plays the Prep-LC loser Friday for the second regional berth.
LC 59, Mead 55: Hoffman staked the Tigers to an 8-2 lead with three baskets and the visitors scored the final nine points of the quarter, getting two baskets each from Sage Poland and Levi Taylor for their 11-point lead.
Hoffman wasn’t just an offensive threat. He posed defensive problems with his size inside and Mead wound up shooting mainly from afar.
The Panthers made just 5 of 17 shot attempts and were trailing 24-10 before Hansen, who entered the game in the second quarter, took command.
He scored nine points to cut the deficit to 26-19 at intermission. And he scored 15 more in the second half. At one point, from his first basket – a 3-pointer with 2 minutes, 36 seconds left until half, to the end of the third quarter – Hansen had scored 19 of Mead’s 26 points. He ended up with a game-high 24.
The Panthers led 27-26 on his 3-pointer after LC turned the ball over three successive times to start the third quarter.
The antidote, following a timeout, was Hoffmann, who scored twice to put the Tigers back on top at 30-27.
Mead stayed within a point but struggled at the free-throw line and was forced to rally from a 47-42 deficit in the final period. The Panthers tied on another Hansen 3-pointer with 1:36 left in the game.
“We did everything we could not to let him touch it,” Norton said.
Who should answer for LC? Hoffmann, with a drive from high post. He finished the game off at the line.
“I was just feeling it tonight,” Hoffmann said. “It’s a nice win, the first time we’ve won at Mead. We just came out with a lot more intensity than the last time.”
Gonzaga Prep 64, Ferris 49: The visiting Saxons had no answer for the Bullpups’ size. The regular-season champions led 39-23 and cruised. Ryan Nicholas, G-Prep’s 6-7 junior post, hit 11 of 16 shots, including a 3-pointer, and finished with 24 points. Travis Long (6-5) added 11. Senior point guard David Stockton scored 15 points in one more gathering of the Stockton clan. His cousin, Riley Stockton, led Ferris with 17.