Walla Walla High School battled back three times from seven-point deficits — and once from a nine-point difference — in the Blue Devil gym on Tuesday in Greater Spokane League/Mid-Columbia Conference District 8 boys loser-out basketball action.
Wa-Hi needed just one last come back from a three-point deficit, but Diego Jaques’ 3-point attempt at the buzzer hit the front rim and bounded away, giving Ferris a 65-62 win and ending the Blue Devils season.
“It’s playoff basketball,” Blue Devils coach Adam Berg said. “You’ve got two good teams. We had runs back and forth. Testament to our guys mental and physical toughness.
“But you’ve got to give credit to Ferris, they did the same thing,” he said. “They just weren’t behind by as much. As soon as we would catch up, they would go on another run, and we had to fight back again.”
Ferris moves on to a loser-out battle on Friday at the Toyota Center in Kennewick to face Mead, an 84-69 winner over Chiawana on Tuesday.
The Blue Devils finish the season at 17-6.
“It is a shame we wound up on the short side, and we don’t get to play anymore basketball,” Berg said. “We have worked hard enough to deserve to be playing more.”
Wa-Hi’s only senior starter, Dylan Ashbeck, drew two fouls in the first 40 seconds, and had to sit.
Ferris grabbed a 12-5 lead following Jackson Floyd’s bucket with 4:12 left in the first.
“Dylan getting those early fouls — and I am not the referee, and of course I am biased — kind of took us out of it,” Berg said. “He is an important player. He does a lot that goes unnoticed and we need him when we are pressed.”
Jaques, with a trey, and Jacob Coram, with two from beyond the arc, sparked Wa-Hi back to grab a 20-18 lead at the end of one quarter.
The Saxons opened the second period in a full-court press and bolted to a 36-29 lead, following a Zach Fleming bucket and with Ashbeck on the bench for all but two minutes of the quarter.
“Dylan is just a great teammate,” Berg said of his senior starter. “He sat there and was cheering and the first off the bench to high five the guys. I wish I could coach him over and over.”
The Saxons scored the first bucket of the second half for a 38-29 lead, and Michael Cornia led the Blue Devils’ rally.
Cornia scored six consecutive points, Jaques added a deuce and Ashbeck completed a three-point play, and Wa-Hi was even at 40-all with 4:49 left in the third.
The Saxons then went on a 7-0 run to open a 47-40 lead following a Floyd triple with 3:24 left in the third.
The Blue Devils responded with a 9-4 run to close the quarter as a Cornia bucket cut the Saxon lead to 51-49 after three.
Cornia tied it and Jaques put the Blue Devils in front at 53-51 with 7:30 left.
A Saxon 5-0 run opened a 58-53 Ferris lead with 6:10 left.
A Cornia bucket and a Jaques three-ball tied it at 58-58 with five minutes left.
Two McCoy Spink free throws gave the Saxons a 60-58 lead.
Ashbeck answered with two Blue Devil freebies for a 60-60 tie with 3:09 left.
Cornia hit both ends of a 1-and-1 for a 62-60 Blue Devil lead with 2:23 left.
Fleming hit a crushing trey to produce a 63-62 Saxon lead, and Spink grabbed a putback for a 65-62 lead inside a minute.
Both teams missed scoring opportunities, Cornia pulled down a rebound and the Blue Devils had one last chance with 14 ticks left.
The Saxon defense kept Wa-Hi without a clean look, but Jaques found enough space to get one up in traffic. It hit the front rim, and the Saxons survived.
“We were trying to run a play,” Berg said. “We didn’t quite have it. The play turned into scramble ball. That’s a tough moment for our team. Give credit to Ferris, they were flying around making it hard on us.”
Cole Omlin led four Saxons in double digits with 16 points.
Cornia’s double-double, 27 points and 11 rebounds, led the Blue Devils.
Jaques added 12, and Ashbeck finished with 10.
Ashbeck and Josia Wik saw their Blue Devil careers come to an end with the 17-6 season.
“I love those guys,” Berg said of his first senior class. “All the returners will reap the benefit of all their hard work.”
Saxons 65, Blue Devils 62
FERRIS (65) — Floyd 14, Omlin 16, Fleming 14, Spink 12, Smith, Bowton 4, Backlund, Hocking 5. Totals 27 7-8 65.
WA-HI (62) — Ashbeck 10, Wik, Cornia 27, Wasser 3, Jaques 12, Watson, Coram 9, Smith 1. Totals 24 8-11 62.
Ferris 18 18 15 14 — 65
Wa-Hi 20 9 20 13 — 62
3-point goals — Ferris 4 (Floyd 2, Fleming 2), WW 6 (Coram 3). Total fouls — Ferris 16, WW 9. Fouled out — none. Technical — none. Rebounds — Ferris 28 (Spink 9), WW 24 (Cornia 11). Turnovers — Ferris 13, WW 14. Assists — Ferris 7 (Fleming 5), WW 10 (Smith 3, Cornia 3).