It was a play that wasn’t even supposed to go to Jack Stewart.
But with 2 minutes, 33 seconds left in the third overtime on Friday night, the Seattle Prep junior found himself with the ball outside the three-point line and a chance to finally give his team some breathing room.
After four quarters of regulation and another 2½ overtime periods, Stewart calmly buried the shot, extended the Panthers’ lead over visiting Bainbridge to seven points. The Panthers, No. 8 in 3A, went on to make 15 of 18 free throws in the third overtime and earn an 88-71 Metro League victory.
“I’ll tell you, whoever was in the gym tonight should pay double on their ticket,” Seattle Prep coach Mike Kelly said. “Bainbridge played so well. They are a young team that is getting better, and they are going to be really good by the end of the year.”
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The Spartans (8-6, 4-4 Metro League) actually led this one most of the way in regulation. Bainbridge jumped to a 14-7 lead after one quarter and, with 1:13 to go in the fourth, held a 59-57 advantage after Joey Blacker’s basket.
But with 29 seconds to go, Bainbridge big man Oskar Dieterich fouled out. He would be followed, eventually, by three more starters. On Deiterich’s fifth, Laurence Hicks stepped to the free throw line and made both shots for Seattle Prep. Those free throws sent this one into overtime.
As he did in each of the three extra periods, without Deiterich in the paint, the 6-foot-7 Sean Gummersall pounded to the basket as overtime began to help put Seattle Prep (9-5, 7-3) ahead, 61-59.
Still, it took Hicks’ driving basket with 31 seconds to go to save the Panthers again. Hicks tied it at 64 and sent the game into the second four-minute extra period.
Bainbridge had a chance to win it with 39.9 seconds to go in the second OT. But Blake Swanson’s two free throws each were long, and the game stayed tied at 68 as OT No. 3 began.
After Gummersall got his layup to begin the OT, Swanson missed a driving attempt for the Spartans. With 3:23 left, the parade to the free throw line began.
Hicks made two. Bainbridge turned it over, then Stewart buried his three to finally give the Panthers a comfortable lead.
“We trust him,” Kelly said of his 6-foot-3 guard. “Jack pulls the trigger on that three. When it went from four to seven, we got a little extra oomph in our legs.”
And the Spartans may have deflated slightly.
“From the start of the first overtime, we just kept talking in the huddle,” Kelly said. “Whoever got three stops in a row was going to get out of here (with a win). Neither team did in the first overtime, or the second. Then we got the three stops, and that blew it open.”