The Ferris boys basketball team had to do all it could to hold off the Mead Panthers.
This after the Saxons enjoyed a 19-point lead four times in the first half.
The visiting Saxons cooled off in the second half and had to summon all the offense they could manufacture in the final two quarters for a hard-fought 62-57 win in Greater Spokane League play Friday.
With the win, Ferris (12-2, 10-2) stayed in a tie for second with Gonzaga Prep and a game behind leader Central Valley.
The Saxons could hardly miss a shot in the first half. They made 16 of 19 from the field, led by senior shooting ace Cody Benzel, who had 16 points in the first quarter and 21 by halftime on 7-of-7 shooting.
Two free throws from Benzel with 34 seconds left before halftime gave Ferris its final 19-point lead at 42-23.
Mead upped the intensity on defense in the second half. It was reflected in the Saxons’ shooting as they made just 4 of 19 from the field.
The Panthers (9-5, 8-4) started carving into the deficit immediately in the third quarter. Mitchell Banaugh hit a 3-pointer to pull Mead within 46-40 with 2:48 to go in the period.
Two free throws by Benzel with 3 seconds to go in the third allowed Ferris to lead 50-44 going into the fourth.
Banaugh got a steal and made a layup to pull the Panthers within 54-52 with 2:40 remaining.
Brandon Pettersen made a basket and was fouled with 1:02 to go, and he had a chance to pull the Panthers within one but he missed the foul shot.
Ferris finished strong, making 8 of 8 foul shots in the final 2:08.
“We lost our composure a little in the second half but got it back,” said Benzel, who finished with 27 points. “We’re going to need that type of game further into the season probably. We started playing not as aggressive because we had the lead.”
It’s the second time Mead has played Ferris tough. In their first meeting, the Panthers gave the Saxons a battle before falling 74-70.
“It’s a good win against a good team,” Benzel said.
Ferris coach Don Van Lierop agreed.
“That was a good playoff-atmosphere game,” Van Lierop said. “It was intense. We were happy with how we executed at the end.”
Van Lierop expected Mead to battle in the final two quarters.
“You knew they were going to get dialed in and get it going at some point,” he said.
Mead coach Glenn Williams also knew his team would play better the final two quarters.
“We made the shots a little harder for Ferris,” Williams said. “They were way too easy in the first half. That was the whole message (at halftime) and the kids did a great job responding. It was anybody’s ballgame the last three or four possessions. If a couple of those (shots) go down for us it gets real scary for Ferris. But Ferris was very efficient their last few possessions.”
Will McPhee led Mead with 17 points and Pettersen had 12 rebounds. Jared Christy had nine rebounds for Ferris.
North Central 82, Mt. Spokane 72: The visiting Indians (2-12, 2-10) shot 60 percent from the field to knock off the Wildcats (5-9, 3-9). Shane Pethers led NC with 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting and Marcus Saugen and Riley Smith had 15 and 14, respectively. Stu Stiles led four Wildcats in double figures with 26.
Gonzaga Prep 59, Rogers 45: The Bullpups (11-3, 10-2) took care of business, outscoring the visiting Pirates (4-10, 4-8) 32-24 in the second half. Ryan Alexander led G-Prep with 13 points and Sam Dowd had 12 to go with four assists. Robert Rucker led Rogers with 17 points.
University 55, Lewis and Clark 48: The visiting Titans (8-6, 6-6) outscored the Tigers (3-11, 2-10) 17-9 in the fourth quarter. Michael Isotalo and Ben Kuiper led U-Hi with 14 points apiece. Connor Hojnacki led LC with 18.
Central Valley 53, Shadle Park 39: The Bears (11-2, 11-1) opened a 27-16 lead in the first half and the Highlanders (4-9, 4-8) didn’t have an answer. Sophomore Cameron Tucker scored a career-high 14 points to lead CV and Adam Chamberlain added 14. George Pilimai led Shadle with eight.
At halftime, Central Valley added Sam Brasch, Terry Irwin, Dave Sanders and Marv Ainsworth to the school’s Wall of Fame.