Trailing Rogers by a dozen at the half, Gonzaga Prep boys basketball coach Matty McIntyre asked his Bullpups to dig a little deeper. To give a little more.
The Bullpups already had given him plenty that day: They helped McIntyre say goodbye to his mother, Christy, who died on Jan. 8 and was laid to rest Friday in Post Falls.
“The kids all went to the funeral, and it was a great showing of support,” McIntyre said.
But after rising to one occasion, the Bullpups did it again. Trailing 34-22 at halftime and 37-24 barely a minute later, they played a sterling third quarter to spark a 61-55 win over Rogers in a Greater Spokane League game at G-Prep.
They contested every shot and fought for every loose ball, seizing the momentum and the moment. After outscoring the Pirates 23-5 in the third quarter, G-Prep fended off several Pirates rallies to improve to 8-6 overall, 7-5 in the GSL.
As exhilarating as it was for the Bullpups, the game was deflating for the Pirates (10-3, 9-3), who fell out of a tie for first place. Now – along with University, which lost to Lewis and Clark Friday night – Rogers is a game back of Central Valley, which defeated Shadle Park 65-53.
The game started well enough for Prep, which led 11-6 before the Pirates got hot from behind the arc. Isaiah Flick hit a long 3-pointer off the fast break, putting Rogers ahead 29-18 and forcing McIntyre to call time out.
It didn’t help that the Bullpups managed to get off just 20 shots, making eight, while Rogers was 12 for 25 from the field and 5 for 9 from long range.
By his own admission, McIntyre’s halftime speech was “nothing that intelligent, believe me.”
“It had nothing to do with X’s and O’s, but about playing harder and trying to compete better,” McIntyre said.
The Rogers lead swelled to 37-24 in the first minute after intermission, but the Bullpups reeled off 16 straight points, leading 40-37 before the Pirates could answer.
Twice Rogers clawed within five, but twice the Pirates missed the front ends of one-and-one free-throw situations. Finally, the lead was down to three with two minutes left, but Brandon Bieber hit a crucial 3-pointer to make it 57-51 and set off the biggest cheer of the night.
“After the game, I told them that my mother would be very proud,” McIntyre said.
Central Valley 65, Shadle Park 53: The Bears (12-2, 10-2) moved into first by themselves, using a 23-12 outburst in the third quarter to separate from the visiting Highlanders (8-6, 6-6). Michael Hannan led CV with 22 points and 12 rebounds and Josh Thomas had 10. CV outrebounded Shadle 35-19. N’Keil Nelson led Shadle with 21.
Lewis and Clark 60, University 49: The visiting Tigers (10-4, 8-4) knocked the Titans (11-3, 9-3) out of a tie for first. LC raced to a 29-18 lead by halftime. Adam Thompson led LC with 12 points and Naje Smith added 11. Austin Dill led U-Hi with 16.
Mead 69, Ferris 53: The Panthers (8-6, 6-6) held the Saxons (5-9, 3-9), who made 11 3-pointers on Thursday, to five at Ferris. Four Panthers scored in double figures, led by Will McPhee, who had 16 points behind four 3-pointers. Max Hess had 15 and Josh Richter and Brandon Pettersen had 12 apiece. Michael Ervin and Murphy Butter had 14 apiece and Jace Van Lierop added 12 for Ferris.
North Central 57, Mt. Spokane 35: The Indians (2-12, 1-11) broke through for their first league win, using a 19-5 start at home. Shane Pethers led the Indians with 11 and Michael Hollister and Noah Higley had 10 apiece. Conner Verret had 10 to lead Mt. Spokane (1-12, 1-10).
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review’s sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.