OTHELLO - The thing about one-point ball games is that the focus is always on the end. Timeouts called within seconds of each other, diagrams on the dryboard, the band, the crowd, the energy on the floor when the scrap is on.
But it’s always something else and Friday night’s 71-70 loss to Prosser at Huskies Gym was no different.
What the capacity crowd saw was Jonathan Garza’s four-point play with a 3-pointer from the wing and a free throw to close the gap to 70-67 with 1:07 remaining. What the crowd saw was Prosser’s Calvin Maljaars’s missed free throw, then Garza’s second 3-pointer of the fourth quarter to make it 71-70.
They saw the no call when Garza drove the lane in traffic and the ball rim out with players crashing all around with 12 seconds. The saw Maljaars miss another free throw with 2.2 seconds left and the Huskies come down with the rebound and immediately call timeout for one last-ditch effort with 2.1 remaining.
And of course, they saw Garza’s attempt to make the floor-length pass to Patrick Azevedo carrom off the beam on the roof to give the ball back to the Mustangs (4-1, 4-1 CWAC), who were happy to limp out of town with a Central Washington Athletic Conference win against one of the scapiest teams in the league.
But this game was decided at the line.
For the Huskies, it was the free-throw line where they were 13 of 19, which was still better than the Mustangs, who were a dismal 3 of 9. Even though Othello had more baskets from the 3-point line (9-7), Prosser made 4 of 7 from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter to stay out of reach.
Garza finished with a game-high 21 points with four 3-pointers. Frank Lopez had three from downtown en route to 18 points and Azevedo finished with 14 for the Huskies, who had nine from 3-point range.
“We have shooters and we have drivers. I like to drive, then find the open man or just go all the way to the basket,” Azevedo said. “Jonathan likes to shoot from the perimeter.
“We thought we had it in the last few seconds, because we had worked so hard as a team to get there. It didn’t happen, but I’m very happy with the way we’re playing. We’ll get there.”
Maljaars had just two blocks on the night, but the 6-foot-5 Prosser big man got in the Huskies head early. Even though he was called for a few fouls on the block, he was an intimidating force in the paint, causing Othello shooters to alter their shots when they drove the lane.
“I tried to go right at him and see if I couldn’t get him in foul trouble,” Azevedo said.
Lopez agreed the Prosser bigs factored into it at the end when Othello needed a score and a stop.
“I was just trying to drive on (Maljaars) and see if I could get him to foul and get to the line,” the 5-foot-10 sophomore said. “Their big guys were tough. If you have an open 3 then you should take the 3, but if not we were trying to take it inside.
“I thought we played really good defense. We worked on boxing out all week, to pick somebody and get a body on them. I thought we rebounded well and played hard on defense. We just didn’t get the last shot when we needed it.”
The Huskies are 1-4 in the CWAC right now and still trying to figure out how to move forward off that 71-68 victory over East Valley.
Prosser 15 23 13 20 - 71
Othello 24 15 12 19 - 70
Prosser - Lilroy Rivera 9, Nik Williams 2, Kaden Swift 5, Will Weinmann 6, Lisandro Santillan 2, Brock Weinmann 9, Calvin Maljaars 16, Tommy Inions 5, Haden Hicks 17. Totals: 26 3-9 71
Othello - Patrick Azevedo 14, Jadel Flores 3, Rambo Vellejo 2, Isaiah Garza 2, Jonathan Garza 21, Frank Lopez 18, Hilario Murillo 9. Totals: 22 3-9 70