In the old story of the tortoise and the hare, the slow-moving tortoise came back to win in the end.
But in the basketball equivalent Tuesday night at West Valley, it was the speedy Eagles who held off Mt. Spokane 44-41 on the Greater Spokane League’s opening night.
Maybe it was because Mt. Spokane, playing the role of the tortoise in this one, was missing one of its legs, leading scorer Matt Dorr (12 points per game), out with the flu.
“Matt’s important to us,” Wildcats coach Bill Ayres said. “Not having him hurt.”
But not as much as West Valley’s hare-like 12-0 start, which included a layup off the opening tip.
“We played hard, but we told them (WV) would come out ready to go and would get after us,” Ayres said. “We didn’t weather it very well.”
But when they did, they forced the Eagles (8-0 overall, 1-0 in the GSL and ranked fourth in the state 3A poll ) to play at a tortoise pace.
“With them, as big as they are and as hard as they play, they are going to make you play an ugly game,” WV coach Jamie Nilles said. “This was our poorest 3-point shooting night of the year (the Eagles were 2 of 10 beyond the arc). If we shoot better from there, it might have loosened them up.”
But despite the early deficit, despite missing Dorr and despite turning over the ball 14 times against the Eagles’ pressure, the Wildcats (3-5, 0-1) still had a shot at the end.
Having drawn within one (42-41) on Edwin Miller’s putback (part of his team-high 16 points off the bench), Mt. Spokane fouled Arton Toussaint with 19 seconds left.
The junior guard hit both to give him 11 points – Tyler Hobbs led WV with 13 points and seven rebounds – and the Eagles a three-point lead. The Wildcats called time, drew up a play and, after the Eagles knocked one pass out of bounds, had to settle for C.J. Barschig’s 24-footer at the buzzer with Toussaint jumping at him.
“We played pretty good defense when we needed it,” Nilles said of the last seconds.
The shot by Barschig, who finished with 12 points, missed and the hare had finally held on – despite playing the final 5 minutes in a deliberate offense.
“It wasn’t a delay,” Nilles said of spreading the court with a nine-point lead. “It’s more of come-get-us-and-we’ll-go-by-you offense. We just have to do a better job of attacking the rim.”
By not attacking, WV let the Wildcats’ defense roam free out front and it forced nearly enough turnovers to come all the way back.
“It’s still a win tonight and it will still be a win in a week,” Nilles said. “It’s nice to get one when we didn’t play very well. Usually we don’t shoot free throws all that well, but tonight it was what saved us. We made just enough (16 of 24) to win.”
Gonzaga Prep 77, North Central 76 (OT)
Ryan Murphy converted two free throws with 3 seconds remaining in overtime to lift the host Bullpups (5-3, 1-0) past the 3A Indians. The free throws were part of a team-high 23 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, for the senior post. But it was K.C. Anderson’s layup with 2 seconds left that sent the game into overtime tied at 63.
Eric Beal had 15 of his game high 27 points after the third quarter for NC (3-5, 0-1). The two teams fired away from the outside, combining for 16 made 3-point shots.
Cheney 61, Lewis and Clark 54
Derek Miller was perfect on six free throws in the final 3 minutes as the 3A Blackhawks (5-3, 1-0) held off the visiting Tigers. Miller finished with 20 points, six rebounds and six assists while 6-foot-6 Matt Brunell had a game-high eight rebounds to go with 17 points. Sophomore point guard Andre Jennings paced LC (2-5, 0-1) with 17 points, including three 3-point shots.
Ferris 77, East Valley 66
A 24-point fourth quarter in which the ninth-ranked Saxons hit 8 of 10 shots boosted them past the host Knights (3-5, 0-1). The Saxons (7-1, 1-0) shot 67 percent from the floor for the night.
Brian Hallett paced Ferris with 17 points while Jeremy Templeton and Joel Wukelic split 32 points. Jye Lanphere’s 16 points and Chase Courchaine’s seven rebounds led the 3A Knights.
University 67, Rogers 45
U-Hi posted an 18-0 run to start the second quarter and went on to defeat the host Pirates (1-7, 0-1) for the second time this season. Sophomore Scotty Livengood had 17 to pace Rogers while three Titans (6-2, 1-0) scored in double figures, led by Calvin Jurich’s 17 and Kyle Olson’s 15.
Shadle Park 45, Mead 43
For the second time in less than three weeks, the Highlanders edged the Panthers (3-5, 0-1). Only this time it didn’t take a 75-foot shot to do it. However, it was the same player, freshman Zach Humphrey, who put Shadle in front 44-43 on a jumper with 20 seconds left. The Highlanders (3-5, 1-0) led most of the game, but Mead made late charge, holding Shadle to three points in the fourth quarter.
Shadle’s Josh Landsverk led all scorers with 15 points, while Humphrey added nine. Nick Harter had 11 points and Lucas Ashe added eight points and seven rebounds for Mead.
Central Valley 53, Clarkston 46
The Bears’ remarkable start (7-1, 1-0) continued with the road win. CV broke from a 33-all tie to end the third with a 20-point final quarter. Braden Jensen led the Bears with 14 as CV hit 12 of 18 free throws. The 3A Bantams (3-4, 0-1) were led by James Bennett’s 12 points.
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