COLFAX - A Pat Richard five-footer from the right baseline with 11 seconds remaining capped an improbable fourth-quarter DeSales comeback and 56-55 boys Southeast 2B District loser-out playoff victory over Tekoa-Oakesdale here Saturday.
The Irish erased a 10-point deficit in the last 3:30 thanks to an 11-0 run with no turnovers, four crucial rebounds, clutch shooting and game-changing steals by Nick Wales and Tommy Gregg.
"I think maybe the biggest factor was that our kids didn't get tentative (at the end)," DeSales coach Mike Giusti said. "We didn't start looking around and settling for jump shots. We kept taking the ball to the basket. We didn't look for somebody else to do it. I think Pat led us in scoring, but the rest of the guys didn't just defer to him."
Richard led the Irish in scoring with a 23-point night. Eleven of those came in the fourth quarter.
Gregg also came up big, scoring 16.
DeSales overcame 11 turnovers in the first quarter to trail by four, 14-10, after one period. The Irish cleaned up their turnovers to close to within two points by half, 20-18.
The Nighthawks built a nine-point lead in the third quarter, thanks to a 20-9 run lasting 5:30.
At the 6:38 mark of the fourth, T-O pushed the lead to 11 on a Lance Lindgren trey.
DeSales' Shea Crowley responded seven seconds later with a 3-ball of his own. After a T-O layup by Brandon Hovde, DeSales registered back-to-back three-point plays by Richard and Gregg to close the gap to four with 5:29 remaining.
The Nighthawks widened the gap back to nine with another Hovde score and a three-point play by Earl Gaines. Richard responded with a two from the elbow at the four-minute mark, and Lindgren answered back with another 3.
But Lindgren's 3 at the 3:37 mark put the Nighthawks up 55-45. They were the last points T-O scored.
Just as Crowley had responded with a quick trey after a T-O trey earlier, Victor Mata responded trey-for-trey in the third quarter, and Tommy Gregg responded to Lindgren's bomb with a bomb of his own.
Pat Richard followed Gregg's 3 by making one of two shots from the free throw line on the following possession.
Nick Wales swiped the ball on T-O's next possession, taking it coast-to-coast for two, and the lead was four with 2:30 left.
After that, no Nighthawk attempted a shot except Hovde, T-O's senior leader. Hovde missed a 6-foot turn-around. Richard rebounded and layed-up with 2:01 left.
Hovde again missed. Richard grabbed the rebound.
DeSales missed its shot attempt at the other end, but Richard was there to grab the rebound and get fouled going back up. Richard again made 1-of-2 to close the lead to one with 1:06 left.
On the Nighthawks' next possession, Hovde launched a 3. Max Mueller was there to corral an offensive board, and T-O called timeout.
The Nighthawks again looked to Hovde, this time down low, but the forced pass was stolen by Gregg. At the other end, with only 14 ticks left, Wales was fouled by Drake Hinkins. Wales missed both free throws, but Richard came away with the rebound, turned and hit a 6-footer with 11 seconds left to take the lead, 56-55.
After another timeout, T-O's Earl Gaines drove the length of the court and dumped inside to a wide open Mueller, who hit an easy 2. But a whistle was blown before the shot as Gaines was fouled by DeSales during the pass. The basket did not count, and T-O was given the ball under the hoop with five seconds remaining.
DeSales' Wales stole the inbounds pass and hung on until time expired.
"I was guarding No. 10 (Lindgren) and sagging off to help in the post," said Wales. "My guy cut through with two guys setting a screen for him, so I went around the screen as they threw the ball in. I just got there quicker than he did and picked it off.
"When I was at the line I was thinking, ‘I don't really want to shoot these.' I was really nervous," he said. "I guess it all worked out, because the ball came to Pat (Richard on the rebound) and he made a nice play.
"I thanked Pat. I was like ‘oh thank you for saving my skin.'"
"The ball just didn't bounce our way down the stretch. When things get tight like that - they're kids - they get tight too," Nighthawk coach Adam Ellis said. "Richard is a tough guard. He played extremely well. And down the stretch he hurt us.
DeSales advances to a loser-out game Wednesday at Whitman College versus the loser of Monday's Liberty Christian/Walla Walla Valley Academy showdown.
For Tekoa-Oakesdale, the season is over.
"I told the guys ‘I'm sorry.' You never want it to end that way," Ellis said.
"It was a great victory for our kids and our program," said Giusti. "For now we're going to enjoy this. On Monday we'll start worrying about who we play next, and on Tuesday we'll know."
DESALES (56) - Crowley 1 0-0 3, Richard 8 7-11 23, Haen 0 0-1 0, Williams 0 0-0 0, Gregg 5 5-8 16, Solomon 0 0-0 0, Wujek 3 1-1 7, Wales 2 0-2 4, Zimmerman 0 0-0 0, Mata 1 0-0 3. Totals 20 13-23 56.
T-O (55) - Lindgren 2 0-0 6, E. Gaines 3 1-1 7, SiJohn 0 0-0 0, Hooper 0 0-0 0, Hovde 7 0-1 16, Mueller 9 0-0 18, J. Gaines 0 0-0 0, Schulz 4 0-0 8, Hinkins 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 1-2 55.
DeSales 10 8 15 23 - 56
T-O 14 6 20 15 - 55
3-point goals - DeS 3 (Crowley, Gregg, Mata), T-O 4 (Hovde 2, Lindgren 2). Total fouls - DeS 13, T-O 19. Fouled out - none. Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - DeS 23 (Wujek 4), T-O 22 (Mueller 7). Turnovers - DeS 21, T-O 19.