The ‘deja vu’ chant came from the Perry student section, and not even the Basha side could deny seeing a movie like this before.
This time, though, overtime allowed for an alternate ending.
The Pumas knocked Basha out of the Division I boys basketball playoffs last season by rallying from 16 down with 4:15 to play to make the state quarterfinals. On Friday night, the Bears watched a 13-point lead evaporate in the final 3:55 of regulation but held on for a 76-72 overtime victory.
With coaching changes, graduation and transfers, neither of these teams look anything like last year’s versions, but power forward Maurice Kirby couldn’t help but see flashbacks.
“For a minute it was,” he said. “Those free throws came back to haunt us again, but we pulled it out. That’s all that matters.”
A bucket by Nathan Markovich gave Basha a 62-49 lead with 3:55 to play, but the Pumas wouldn’t go away. Jake Mortensen had 10 points in the final 3:12 and Basha only managed one point in the final two and a half minutes as Perry clawed back. Mortensen tied the game on a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left, and following a Kirby miss, Jordan Howard almost won it on a shot from near halfcourt as time expired.
The bank shot rattled out, and while the Pumas held a pair of early leads in overtime, Basha took control down the stretch. Tyrone Ayala hit a pair of free throws with 8.6 seconds left to make it a two-possession game and secure the victory.
Kirby finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Nathan Markovich, who came off the bench for the first time this season, added 21 points.
Howard had a game-high 28 points to lead Perry while Mortensen scored all but two of his 23 points after halftime.
The victory ends a two-game losing streak for the Bears, who are regrouping after losing stars Torren Jones and Jaron Hopkins to transfer in the offseason.
“Every game’s important, especially for us, because we’ve only got two guys (Kirby and Markovich) with experience,” first-year Basha coach John Burns said. “Any win we can get early, these all the count the same. A win is my only concern because we’re going to get better throughout the year.”