Before Gonzaga’s final home game of the season, Brian Pete took a step back and looked around.
He wanted to soak it all in – from the pregame shootaround, all the way to the final buzzer that ended Gonzaga’s 81-67 win over Pepperdine on Saturday. He wanted every second stamped in his memory.
“It just slowed down for me, which I was kind of worried about – this whole night just flying by,” Pete said.
It was a night Pete might have never expected this time last year, when he was on the sidelines working as a team manager for the Zags. On Saturday, Pete ditched the suit and tie for his Gonzaga jersey and warmed up in front of Gonzaga fans who have become accustomed to his new attire this season.
Pete, who is graduating from Gonzaga this year, switched roles earlier in the season after guards Corey Kispert and Alex Martin were sidelined with ankle injuries. He has since appeared briefly in the final minutes of five previous games, but on Senior Night, Pete got his name in the starting lineup.
His now teammates were determined to get Pete his last big shot inside The Kennel. In the opening minutes against Pepperdine, the Zags kept working to set Pete up with some uncontested shots.
After a minute, Pete finally got a good look from 3-point range, but missed. Nearly 30 seconds later he tried again at the rim, but couldn’t get the ball to fall.
With his court time running out, Pete tried one more time from the perimeter and scored. The Kennel Club went crazy and Pete left the court to watch the game from the bench the rest of the night.
“I don’t even know if I have words to describe it yet, but it was maybe the coolest moment of my life. It was something I’ll never forget,” Pete said.
Pete was one of three players honored in Gonzaga’s Senior Night, including regular starters Silas Melson and Johnathan Williams, known as “J3.”
Per tradition, the trio of seniors entered through the stands in the beginning of the game to greet their overly excited family members in the center of the court.
Williams’ father Johnny (J1) was the most enthusiastic of the bunch as he greeted his son with three fingers up in the air. He turned to the Kennel Club and jumped in the air while holding up three fingers on both hands for his son.
It was too much excitement in that setting for the much quieter J3, who shook his head at his proud father.
“He (was) doing too much,” J3 said.
After the final buzzer, the three seniors gathered in the center of the court again to talk to the fans who had not yet hurried out to the parking lot. Williams, who played at Gonzaga for two seasons after transferring from Missouri, took the microphone first and quickly thanked the fans.
“It was an amazing year for me,” he said. “Thank you for supporting us. It means a lot to me.”
Melson, who is not fond of the spotlight either, handed the microphone off to Pete after a swift farewell to the fans.
Pete, however, took his time to find the right words.
“There’s no place in the world I’d rather be, no coaching staff I’d rather play for, there’s no set of guys I’d rather play with,” he said. “This is the best place to be. I’ve enjoyed every second of it.”
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