The Ferris Saxons haven’t been to the State 4A Tournament in a couple years. On the top of the South Hill, that’s a drought.
But the rain finally fell Friday night at Gonzaga University’s McCarthey Athletic Center, as the Saxons poured in 56 percent of their shots to top Pasco 83-74 and earn a trip to Tacoma next week.
In the night’s first winners’ bracket game, Eisenhower’s 6-foot-8 Brandon Johnson scored 24 points as the Cadets also earned a state trip with a foul-marred 68-53 victory over Gonzaga Prep. Ike will meet Ferris for state seeding and the ConAgra Foods/Lamb Westin Boys 4A Regional title at 6 p.m.
In the losers’ bracket, University’s Matt Hanna’s 3-pointer as time ran out gave U-Hi a 57-54 win over Richland and ensured the Titans would meet the Pups for the fifth time this year in today’s winner-to-state game in the McCarthey Athletic Center at noon.
In the night’s last game, Davis defeated Shadle Park 56-51 to end the Highlanders’ season. Davis will meet Pasco for the last state berth at 2 p.m.
Ferris 83, Pasco 74
This was a game of runs, not only scoring runs – there were at least five scoring streaks of more than seven points for the teams combined – but in both teams getting up and down the court.
The Saxons (21-3) attacked the basket in transition and in their half-court set, helping them hit 29 of 51 shots. But junior guard Jon Clift gave an assist to GU.
“What a great shooter’s gym,” Clift said. “I think this was the best we’ve shot all year; everyone was feeling it.”
Senior guard Jeremy Templeton led the way, hitting 7 of 10 shots en route to 20 points, while Ryan Shelby, another senior, added 13, junior Brian Hallett another 10 and five others scored between 7 and 9 points.
“They have five guys who can shoot,” Pasco guard Dean Colbray said. “You couldn’t help on defense because you couldn’t leave your guy, so if they got by you it was a done deal.”
“That was a high scoring game where everyone seemed to have a hot hand,” Templeton said. “Both teams knew it was a big game and a lot of players stepped up.”
Including Pasco’s Jeff Middleton, who drained four 3-pointers to finish with 22 points, his brother Mark, who had 16, and Colbray, who added 17. The Bulldogs (19-5) took 20 3-pointers, hitting eight.
“We tried to change up our defense to give them different looks,” Clift said. “We were trying to find their shooters, but we didn’t do a very good job of it.”
Despite the defensive letdowns, despite hitting only 10 of 15 free throws down the stretch and despite being outrebounded, Ferris is headed to state, and they are going at the expense of a team that’s beaten it two years in a row at regionals.
“Two years ago they beat us in a loser-out game,” said first-year Ferris coach Barry Olson. “Last year they just physically manhandled us (in a first-round game).
“This win means everything to these seniors. They were 19-1 as freshman, many of them had to play a lot on varsity as sophomores and they matured last year. Now they’ve earned the right to go to state.”
Eisenhower 68, Gonzaga Prep 53
The numbers were pretty staggering. The Cadets (22-3) marched to the free-throw line 43 times. They converted 35, including 16 in the opening half.
Ike’s free-throw parade leader was center Brandon Johnson, who would continually initiate contact in the post with the Prep defenders, then head to the line. He had 17 first-half points, but only six from the floor. The other 11 came from the line, as the Pups’ post players had a combined 11 fouls before intermission. He finished 16 of 19 from the line.
Brandon Johnson finished as Ike’s high scorer with 24 but it was 6-7 Jack Loofburrow who took over the free-throw chores in the second half, hitting 9 of 10 en route to 15 – all after halftime – before fouling out.
It may have been appropriate the game’s last 30 seconds included three technical fouls, one for an Ike player’s comments and two for the Prep clapping that ensued.
The Prep bench did most of its clapping for Michael Johnson, who probably shouldn’t have been playing. He hurt his groin during practice Thursday, spent time in the emergency room and wasn’t expected to play. He did.
The 6-1 guard hit 7 of 8 first-half shots, including a 20-footer at the buzzer, en route to 18 before intermission and a game-high 25 total.
“Yeah, it’s sore, but I tried to forget about it,” said Michael Johnson, who also ended the third quarter with a long bomb. “But this regional tournament is every thing I’ve worked for all year, so I wasn’t going to miss it.”
He missed more shots in the second half, and Prep (17-9) didn’t have another option.
“Usually our strength is our inside game,” Prep coach Mike Haugen said. “We wanted to keep our big guys active because we knew we couldn’t just post up against them. We missed some shots we usually make, but their size had a lot to do with that. We haven’t seen anyone that big all year.”
And it was tough to tell what would be called, according to Michael Johnson.
“We couldn’t figure that out,” he said. “But we can’t blame the officials, we’re a very physical team and we foul a lot. We’ve got to play through the calls.”
University 57, Richland 54
The Titans (18-7) trailed by 10 early in the fourth quarter but had cut it to one at the 3:50 mark. From there the teams traded baskets, with U-Hi’s Sunny Khera’s two free throws giving the Titans a 54-51 lead with time running out.
Richland’s Josh Dixon tied it up with a 3-pointer with 7.6 seconds left, his only hoop of the game. The Titans pushed it, and the ball ended up in Hanna’s hands. His 3-pointer as time ran out gave U-Hi life for today and ended Richland’s season at 14-11.
Calvin Jurich paced U-Hi with 17, while Kyle Olson added 13, including three 3-pointers.
Davis 56, Shadle Park 51
Freshman Zach Humphrey’s 20 points weren’t enough to keep the Highlanders’ hopes alive. The Pirates’ (19-6) Humberto Perez scored 19 and Curtis Gomez-Trimble added 15 to earn a date with Pasco. Josh Landsverk added 12 points for Shadle (10-15).
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