WALLA WALLA - The DeSales boys basketball team's D.A. Davidson Christmas Classic consolation bracket game started nearly 30 minutes later than it's original tip-off time, and the Irish seemed to buy into the theme of tardiness early against Echo, Ore., before locking into one of their best quarters of the season to score an impressive 56-48 victory and a share of third place at the event in the Sherwood Center on the Whitman College campus late Thursday afternoon.
The Irish (4-4) struggled to find their shots early and had even more trouble holding onto the ball, which pushed head coach Allyn Griffin to take out his entire starting five less than four minutes into the game.
"It wasn't the game plan," Griffin said. "Still, we tell our guys you have to give maximum effort at all times to stay on the floor. We felt like we weren't getting that, so we made the change, and I think it woke everyone up a bit."
Even with the changes, Echo led 15-7 at the end of the first quarter, in large part due to eight first-quarter turnovers by DeSales.
The Cougars (8-3) stretched their lead to double figures on an Esau Ibarra runner before the Irish started chipping away at the bulge early in the second. However, the boys in green continued to struggle with turnovers and could not cut the spread to less than four at any point in the quarter, trailing 28-21 at intermission.
"Obviously, we played a more solid game in the first half than in the second," said Echo head coach Ben Campbell. "I think we played better tonight than we had in our other two games, but three games in three days always makes it tough to close things out."
DeSales came out of the break playing inspired basketball to take its first lead of the night when Spencer Cordeiro drained a 3 to tie the game at 35 and Tommy Gregg made 1-of-2 free throws on the following possession to give the Irish a brief edge at the 2:38 mark in the third quarter.
"We told the guys at half that we need to play the way we practice," Griffin said. "They responded, and I'm really proud of them. We have some senior guys on this team that are playing for their third coach in this program, and they have stuck with it all the way. We reminded them of the pride they have in themselves and the pride we have in them, and they showed everyone why."
Echo battled back to regain the lead and capped the quarter on a circus shot, a 25-foot jumper from Brian Ibarra, to give the Cougars a 45-41 lead.
It would be the last time Echo scored for more than seven minutes as the Irish went on a methodical 11-0 run in the fourth to change the four-point deficit into a seven-point lead when Nick Wales put back a missed free throw to make it a three-score advantage, which proved insurmountable for Echo.
"It's been a rough three days," Campbell said. "It's hard to play your best for 12 quarters, and we just didn't make our free throws, and they did."
The Cougars, who only made 2-of-10 at the charity stripe, missed all four of their free throws in the fourth quarter, including a pair of front ends on one-and-ones that stymied any chance Echo had of pulling out its second win of the three-day event.
On the night, DeSales was led by 13 points from Victor Mata and a 10-rebound performance from Wales, while Brian Ibarra carried the Cougar offense in the third quarter, scoring 12 of his game-high 17 in the frame.
"It's a great event for the community more than anything," Griffin said of the tournament. "We came out playing 7-11 defense, and everyone just was standing still with their hands up like there was a hold-up going on in the gym, but in the second half we gave an effort that showed how much playing in this city and for this community means to us."
In the final day's other third-place game, Valley Christian (7-1) outlasted Overlake (2-8) 56-52. And in the game to decide the last two spots in the boys' field, Odessa-Harrington (2-6) squandered a 31-20 halftime lead but recovered to defeat Columbia-Hunters (1-9) 56-52 in overtime.
Valley Christian steadily built its lead to 42-30 after three quarters but had to withstand a 22-point Overlake rally in the final period to secure its victory. Tyler Tipke tallied 19 points to lead the Panthers and Craver Small and Nick Cox were also in double figures with 14 and 11 points, respectively.
Dean Paplawski led the Owls with 18 points and Marcus Munoz contributed 10.
The Columbia-Hunters defense limited Odessa-Harrington to 16 points over the third and fourth quarters combined as the Lions rallied to tie the game at 47-all at the end of regulation. But Justin Hunt's 3-pointer and 6-of-8 free-throw shooting by a trio of players rescued O-H in the extra session.
Hunt led the Titans' offense with 19 points and Brett Larmer was also in double figures with 11 points. Dominick Marquez paced the Columbia-Hunters with a game-high 21 points and Gabe Jones scored eight of his 10 points in the second half to help spark the Lions' comeback.
DeSales 56, Echo 48
DESALES (56) - Gregg 2-4 1-2 6, Donnelly 0-0 0-0 0, Fazzari 2-6 3-3 7, Williams 1-4 3-5 5, Soloman 0-0 0-0 0, Mata 5-12 1-2 13, Cordeiro 4-9,2-2 11, Elmenhurst 1-1 2-4 4, Zimmerman 0-0 0-0 0, Leahy 1-3 0-0 3, Haen 1-1 0-2 2, Wales 2-2 1-2 5. Totals 19-42 13-22 56.
ECHO (48) - Bettencourt 0-0 0-0 0, Harris 1-5 0-3 2, Moffit 0-2 0-0 0, Gutierrez 3-8 1-2 7, E. Ibarra 4-12 0-0 8, Cisneros 2-6 0-1 4, Enright 0-0 0-0 0, Flores 2-4 1-2 6, B. Ibarra 7-11 0-0 17, Keifer 0-1 0-0 0, Marcum 2-5 0-0 4. Totals 21-54 2-10 48.
DeSales 7 14 20 15 - 56
Echo 15 13 17 3 - 48
3-point goals - DeS 5 (Gregg, Mata 2, Cordeiro, Leahy),Echo (Flores, B. Ibarra 3). Total fouls- DeS 14, Echo 18. Fouled out- None. Technical fouls- None. Rebounds- DeS 30 (Wales 10), Echo 18 (Cisneros 4). Turnovers- DeS 24 , Echo 15,
Valley Christian 56, Overlake 52
VALLEY CHRISTIAN (56) - McConahy 4, Tipke 11, Tomlinson 2, Blew 4, Small 14,Jarvis, Tabbert, Piersol 2, Cox 11.
OVERLAKE (52) - Poplawski 18, Hilerio, Umberger 7, Munoz 10, Johnson 2, Spencer 2, Lui 9, Marcoe.
Valley Christian 14 12 16 14 - 56
Overlake 11 9 10 22 - 52
O-H 56, Columbia-Hunters 50
COLUMBIA-HUNTERS (50) - Carlson 4, D. McCoy 4, Marquez 21, Jones 10, Wyborney 6, M. McCoy, Anderson 2, Singer, Flett 3, Everett.
ODESSA-HARRINGTON (56) - Weber 1, Smith 4, Sperline 8, Sanford 2, Larmer 11, Tanke 2, Hatten, King 9, Hunt 19.
C-H 11 9 14 13 3 - 50
O-H 14 17 6 10 9 - 56