Ferris coach Sean Mallon said “last week was not a good week for us.”
The Saxons more than made up for it on Tuesday.
Trayce Atkins led scorers with 18 points, Dylan Skaife came off the bench for 14 points and four 3-pointers, and the Saxons beat visiting University 59-36 in a Greater Spokane League 4A/3A game.
“We were just excited to play them because last time we only beat them by two,” Atkins said. “So it was just fun. We haven’t played in a while because the whole COVID and stuff, so it was just fun to go out there.”
Jeremiah Sibley led U-Hi (7-4, 0-1) with 17 points. The Saxons (9-3, 1-1) held 6-foot-8 post Conrad Bippes to 11 points, limiting the all-league player to one basket in each of the first three quarters.
“We practiced the whole week and the weekend ... to shut him down,” Atkins said. “So that was our game plan going into this.”
“It’s totally a team effort,” Mallon said of the defensive effort on Bippes. “I thought we did a really good job on the initial guy who was guarding him, fighting for position, all that good stuff. And our guys came really hard on the double.
“They were aware that they had to be there on the catch, and I thought they were really proactive with that.”
Ferris got out quickly and never looked back.
Ray Ray Bergerson went the distance with a steal with just under 3 minutes to go in the first quarter to give the Saxons a quick six-point lead. Alec Roland’s follow-up off a miss made it 10-2. Skaife nailed his first 3 from the top of the key, and Ferris led 13-2 after one quarter.
Despite the quick start. Mallon felt it could have been more.
“We could have shot the ball a little bit better,” he said. “The defensive effort is our deal. When we play defense, we’re good. When we come out here and try to play cool, we’re not very good.”
In the second quarter, Skaife hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions and Kruz Wheeler’s reverse with 45 seconds left helped Ferris lead 31-18 at halftime.
“He’s gonna be a heck of a player,” Mallon said of the sophomore Skaife. “And the thing about him that I like is, you know, he kind of struggled with the shot a little bit last week. But he’s the kid who’s in the gym till 10:30 at night every night trying to get it ironed out.”
Atkins took over in the third quarter. He consistently drove the lane, either scoring with a variety of finger rolls or going to line and hitting free throws. He had 10 points in the quarter, and the Saxons led 45-28 after three.
“My coach kind of got on me for not going full speed,” Atkins said. “So that kind of got me to go hard.”
“(Atkins) has the capability to just come up with basket after basket after basket,” Mallon said. “He’s so hard to keep in front of in the half court and when we need a basket, he’s our guy who kind of put his head down, get his own shot and all that.”
Ferris outscored U-Hi 14-8 in the final quarter.
“Hopefully, it kind of refocused us going into league play a little bit,” Mallon said.
Ferris 47, University 43: Elliot Hencz scored 14 points, Kendall Omlin added 13 – including two big baskets with less than 2 minutes to go – and the Saxons (10-3, 1-1) held off the Titans (3-7, 0-1) in the early game.
Eliannah Ramirez led U-Hi with 23 points.
Ferris coach Scott Ward was pleased with Omlin’s performance on a couple of levels.
“I’ve been really asking (Omlin) since break to just be more and more aggressive because she’s just so hard to guard. You know, she’s strong and physical. And she finishes pretty well in the paint.”
“I just thought, they put me in this position and I have to do something with it,” Omlin said. “And that’s what I did. They put me in those positions because I know that I’m ready for it.
“And I love those types of situations.”
Cassidy Cunningham’s 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter gave Ferris a seven-point lead. The lead grew to nine on a pick-and-roll converted by Kacey Spink from Omlin with just under 5 minutes to go.
U-Hi’s Julianna Jeross made it a three-point game with a 3-pointer at the 2-minute mark, but Omlin answered at the other end with a power move, then converted a three-point play with 5.8 seconds left and the Saxons held on.