TACOMA – Ferris entered Wednesday’s first round of the State 4A boys basketball tournament with the shortest team in the 16-school bracket. But the Saxons had won the Greater Spokane League and the District 8 titles with quickness and non-stop energy.
That came to an end Wednesday night as Ferris turned stagnant in the second half and fell 62-50 to Mountlake Terrace, dropping the Saxons into the consolation bracket in the first trip to state in three years.
In an earlier game, Gonzaga Prep staged an impressive second-half rally, cutting what was once a 24-point deficit to as few as three before falling to Bethel 58-53.
Ferris will meet Inglemoor at 2 p.m. while G-Prep (18-10) will play a loser-out game with Evergreen (Vancouver) at noon.
Mountlake Terrace 62, Ferris 50
This one was decided in the third quarter. Trailing 35-34 early in the quarter, Ferris had four chances to take the lead. But it never did, and the Hawks finally took advantage, going on a 9-0 run to finish the quarter and the Saxons.
It was the third run of nine or more unanswered points MT posted and the only one Ferris didn’t answer. In the first half, both times the Hawks (20-5) put 10 straight on the board, the Saxons responded with at least nine.
“A big part (of their spurts) was they did a good job of pushing the ball and attacking early in their offense,” Ferris coach Barry Olson said. “They would get us on our heels and shoot before we could come out and be aggressive (on defense).”
It was the Hawks who were the aggressors on defense, limiting a Saxons offense that lost all movement to 35 percent shooting and 21 points after halftime.
“All week long we worked on meeting their push with the ball, and pushing back,” MT coach Nalin Sood said. “It was an outstanding defensive effort.”
Saxons leading scorer Jeremy Templeton, while acknowledging MT’s effort, had a different take.
“At state, everyone is going to play great defense,” said the senior guard who finished with a team-high 14 points. “But offensively we were too much one-on-one. We would pass then stand and watch. We’re small. We have to keep moving and give ourselves a chance to get around their big guys.”
The Saxons (21-5) start three guards, and both of their inside players, juniors Caleb Rath and Brian Hallett, are listed at 6-foot-3. Mountlake Terrace’s three big guys were all taller than 6-4.
The taller Hawks, led by 6-5 Michael Boxley and 6-7 Leigh Swanson, dominated the offensive glass with six second-chance baskets, including four times when they had multiple attempts.
The final totals: MT 17 offensive rebounds and 37 overall.
Bethel 58, Gonzaga Prep 53
After falling behind 42-18 with a little more than a minute left in the first half, the Bullpups needed to be perfect to pull out an upset over the second-ranked Braves. They were good, possibly even great. But they weren’t perfect.
When Jake Sayman hit two free throws with 5:57 left, Prep had pulled to 49-45. But the Pups missed four consecutive free throws – two front ends of one-and-ones – in the next four minutes, squandering a chance to get closer or even lead.
“In a close game, free throws are key,” G-Prep coach Mike Haugen said. “At halftime, we knew we were going to have to play (today), so our entire goal was to win the second half and take something positive into the next day.”
They almost took a win. Despite the free-throw misses, Travis Walker’s up-and-under move with 43 seconds left pulled the Pups within a possession at 54-51.
They would have had that possession, too, if Bethel’s Alex Tiefenthaler hadn’t flown across the court to grab Mike Yusko’s missed front end with 33 seconds left. In the next 10 seconds, the 6-8 Tiefenthaler scored his only second-half points, Yusko blocked Brandon Kennedy’s 3-point attempt on the other end and the comeback fell short.
It was Kennedy’s 10th 3-point attempt – he made four – as he tried to fill the gap opened by an injury to Michael Johnson, G-Prep’s top scorer in the East Regional, who left for good 3 minutes in with a recurrence of his groin injury.
“We didn’t have that threat from behind the arc,” said Kennedy of Johnson’s loss. “I started to let it go and it was falling, so I kept it up.”
Kennedy, who finished with a game-high 22, teamed with 6-4 junior Ian Parry to power G-Prep’s comeback on the offensive end.
The duo scored all of Prep’s points in a 23-4 run spanning the last 50 seconds of the second and all of the third quarter. Parry, who was 7 of 8 from the floor for the game, had 11 of his 15 points in the stretch.
“We knew Mike was out for the rest of the game,” Parry said, “so someone had to step up. I came off screens from (Ryan) Murphy and their big guys, and if I got open, my teammates found me.”
Eisenhower 48, Prairie 45: Junior Jack Loofburrow finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds, and the Cadets (24-3) of Yakima used a 19-0 run to defeat the Falcons (22-7).
Kentwood 62, Pasco 55: Senior guard Blake Solomon scored 17 points and the defending champion Conquerors (22-5) shot 23 of 45 from the floor to defeat the Bulldogs (20-6).
South Kitsap 64, Roosevelt 48: Derrick Webb scored 24 points and the Wolves (25-1) shot 15 of 15 from the line while defeating the Roughriders (20-6), who are at state for the first time since 1987.
North Kitsap 62, Kamiak 52: Senior guard Jacob Gonzales scored a season-high 40 points, hitting 11 of 16 from the floor and 18 of 20 from the line, to guide the Vikings (18-9) past the Knights (17-7).
Snohomish 71, Evergreen 55: Jake Hammons hit seven 3-pointers and scored 24 points to lead the Panthers (19-6) past the Plainsmen (20-8) of Vancouver.
Curtis 60, Inglemoor 45: Isaiah Thomas hit 17 of 17 from the line and scored 28 points to carry the Vikings (20-6) past Inglemoor (21-3), also the Vikings.
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