WENATCHEE — Garrett Long has always been one of the league’s most unstoppable scorers.
The Wenatchee Panthers (6-2) needed a little bit extra from Long on Tuesday night, so the senior guard gave them one of the most sensational performances in his storied four-year career.
Long had 37 points, 12 rebounds and four steals, completing the two-game sweep over their cross-bridge rival with a 57-56 overtime victory at Wenatchee High School.
“He carried a huge load for us, especially with our second-leading scorer, Camden (Loihamer) not there,” Wenatchee head coach Travis Williams said. “Offensively, Garrett just keeps coming at you and he’s so strong with the ball; he’s hard to defend one-on-one. But his rebounding is the biggest area of improvement; 12 would be a career-high for him and that’s such a huge lift for a guard to get that many boards.”
Long was everything and everywhere for Wenatchee offensively, driving to the basket and converting or pulling up from long range to squash the Wildcats' momentum. And still, Eastmont was right there at the end of the game. The Wildcats, for the most part, had a terrific game as well. Their only blemish: wasted opportunities.
Eastmont (4-3) dominated the offensive glass and outscored Wenatchee in the final three quarters but the Wildcats missed a ton of shots around the basket.
“It wasn’t as if we didn’t have opportunities; we just didn’t capitalize on them,” Eastmont head coach George Juarez said. “When we have open shots, we have to put them in and we missed in critical times. But overall, it was a good back-and-forth game. Someone would get a little lead and the other team would come back.”
Wenatchee charged out to an 18-13 lead in the first quarter, but Eastmont slowly chipped away as guys started to hit shots. Senior Dillon Esparza picked up two quick fouls in the first and a third early in the second, forcing Juarez to take him out for junior Nick Wiersma, but Esparza was re-inserted into the game with a few minutes left in the quarter and hit two big shots to keep the score tight. The Wildcats cut the Panthers' lead to two by halftime.
Eastmont senior Eamon Monahan took over the third quarter, pouring in nine quick points to give the Wildcats a lead. But anytime Eastmont seized momentum, Long threw water on it with a 3-pointer or clutch bucket of his own. Eastmont outscored Wenatchee 15-14 in the quarter but still trailed by a point heading into the fourth.
The Wildcats went to Monahan on the first few possessions but he missed his first four shots in the quarter and Long stretched the Wenatchee lead to four. Both teams traded buckets and the score remained tight throughout the quarter, but with one minute left, Wenatchee led by two.
That’s when things got interesting.
Eastmont junior Logan Schneider, who had been held scoreless for the entire game, was fouled with just 30 seconds left and earned a trip to the line. The senior converted both free throws and then made the play of the night by stuffing Long at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
It was a bizarre sequence as Eastmont nabbed a steal but immediately gave the ball back to Long at midcourt. Long drove toward the basket but was met at his apex by Schneider.
“He (Schneider) played well in those closing seconds,” Juarez said.
The Wildcats played tough defense in overtime but scored just five points as their offense went cold. Monahan paced the Wildcats with 22 points and eight rebounds. Cael Flanagan chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds, and Esparza finished with 11 points and two steals. Spencer Heimbigner added seven points and five rebounds.
Both teams are in the district tournament scheduled for this weekend, but the time and location depend on the outcome of the Davis-West Valley game on Wednesday.
“I feel good,” Juarez said. “We played well, we just need to convert our opportunities. Regardless of who we play, we’ll look forward to it.”
If Davis wins on Wednesday, the Pirates would be the No. 1 seed, West Valley the No. 2, Wenatchee the No. 3 and Eastmont the No. 4. A West Valley win makes them the No. 1 seed, Wenatchee would be the No. 2 and then the final two spots would be determined by the final score.
“It really doesn’t matter,” Williams said. “It’ll take a complete game regardless of who it is. There is still a lot to play for and we want to go out as district champs. That’s our goal and we can’t be satisfied with anything less.”