Expectations were met when Greater Spokane League boys basketball heavyweights Shadle Park and Gonzaga Prep squared off Tuesday night in a contest befitting title contenders.
The showdown took an electric performance by Anthony Brown, beyond the standards he’d already set, to lift the host Highlanders to the 64-60 win, tying the pair for first place with 13-2 records.
“People got their money’s worth,” Shadle coach Tim Gaebe said. “It was a great game.”
In the game’s final 4 minutes, 26 seconds alone, with his team trailing 51-46, Brown scored twice, including a four-point play that put Shadle ahead for good at 54-52.
The first basket came on a determined change-of-hands drive to the basket after he had swatted a layup attempt by Ryan Nicholas at the other end. It was the first of three blocks of G-Prep’s 6-foot-7 scoring leader in the game’s final 2:50.
They were the exclamation points on a career-high 30-point night that included three 3-pointers and an explosive transition layin in the third quarter, and eight rebounds. One was a diving hustle play that led to Luke Jordan’s third-quarter 3-pointer. On another, in the first half, Brown made a floor-length pass that led to Ryan Towner’s layin and Shadle’s first lead.
“Last night,” Brown said, alluding to Shadle’s loss to Mead, in which he was shut out in the second half, “I played poor offense and poor defense. I had to bring it now. That was the best energy we’ve had. It was the best game we’ve played since I’ve been here.”
It was a treat for fans who nearly filled both sides of Shadle’s new gymnasium. Afterward, Dave Robertson, who coached Shadle to a state title and had a fourth-place team at G-Prep, said he was wowed by the performance.
Both sides brought it. Washington State-bound Brown’s effort was simply a cut above.
“He’s awfully good,” said Bullpups coach Mike Haugen, who wasn’t entirely pleased with G-Prep’s defense or patience. “WSU did their homework on him.”
G-Prep locked down Shadle early and took the lead, but to Shadle’s credit it never was more than four points in the first half. David Stockton scored half of his team-high 24 points, and Nicholas and Travis Long, another future Cougar who drew Brown on defense, combined for 16 in the half.
Yet while it seemed the Bullpups were doing everything right, the Highlanders hung around. Then a couple of blocked shots by 6-7 reserve Jake Rodgers swung the game in Shadle’s favor.
First Brown scored and then threw his long strike. Towner hit two free throws and Brown all three when he was clipped on a 3-point attempt. He finished off the half with a basket, 16 total points and 32-28 lead.
It was a lead the Highlanders kept through the third quarter, but G-Prep got defensive again. Stockton scored five points and Parker Kelly a 3-pointer to make it 51-46. Brown took over.
“We knew they were a good team,” Brown said. “We couldn’t just play a half, we couldn’t play three quarters, we had to play all four. Last time we got off to a slow start, got behind and couldn’t make up that ground. Tonight everybody came ready to play all four quarters.”
Gaebe was particularly impressed with the way his team put Monday’s loss behind it and performed so well against the league leaders.
“Prep is a dang good team and they (the Highlanders) showed true grit,” he said. “I’m so proud of them.”
Rogers 57, Ferris 53: Jesse Vaughan scored 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter when the Pirates (8-6) outscored the host Saxons (7-7) 24-10 and moved into third place.
Mead 40, East Valley 33: The visiting Panthers (8-7) held the turnover-prone Knights (2-13) to 17 second-half points and continued their move up in league.
Central Valley 58, North Central 56: The host Bears (7-7) rallied with a 20-point third quarter and Scott Simon scored with 4 seconds remaining to beat the Indians (7-7).
Mt. Spokane 59, University 47: The visiting Wildcats (5-8) outscored the Titans (2-13) 32-14 in the middle two quarters. Chaz Johnson and Connor Haley combined for 35 points.