Roberto Gittens supposes he and the top-ranked Foss High School boys are warmed up now.
“Just a little bit,” he smiled.
The second day playing at the Yakima Valley SunDome turned into a shooting contest between the Falcons and seventh-ranked Pullman in the Class 2A state quarterfinals.
The Greyhounds launched a barrage of 3-pointers to control the lead early, but Foss — paced by Gittens’ game-high 26 points — got hot in the second half and rallied to an 84-69 win.
“Survive and advance,” Foss coach Mike Cocke’ said. “That’s kind of our motto and has been all week — win and keep winning. If we do that, we’ll be in a good situation Saturday night.”
But, it’s getting tougher.
Foss, which has scored more than 80 points 14 times this season, couldn’t open up a double-digit lead for good until the final two minutes of the game.
The Greyhounds trailed by eight points with 3:11 to go before the Falcons forced four turnovers that contributed to 9-0 run to end the game.
The final quarter seems to be where Foss has found separation lately. Cocke’ said, before each game, the Falcons write, ‘We play 32 minutes’ on the board.
“We’ve challenged whoever we’re playing against to play at our speed and our pace for 32 minutes, and see where things end up,” Cocke’ said.
The depth that the Falcons have built this season, Cocke’ said, has made a big difference.
“Everybody we’ve played to this point, we’ve had more depth,” he said. “We go eight, nine guys. … I think our bench is stronger than anybody’s we’ve played.
“Damani Kelly, Michael Pollard, (Rakim) Nelson — those guys coming in and they give us a spark. They make us so much better.”
Kelly, Pollard and Nelson combined for 29 points off the bench for Foss, while Pullman’s bench pitched in four.
Jacob Wells — who scored a team-high 23 points for Pullman — caused problems for Foss in the first half, scoring 21 of his points primarily on 3-pointers and free throws.
“That performance by that kid was probably the best individual performance we’ve played against all year,” Cocke’ said.
“We changed the defense to try to get him out of his rhythm — and it worked — but we challenged our guys to not lose him, know where he’s at, contest everything. We just kept him in front of us the entire second half.”
Pullman led, 43-39, at halftime, but Wells and Jared Anderson — who scored 17 for the Greyhounds — each only scored one basket in the second half.
“If we’re down, that means the (other) team is playing really good, and we’re not playing our best yet,” Gittens said.
“They had a good half, and then me and my team went in there, we talked to each other and we said we’ve got a whole half to do what we do.”
Gittens fueled Foss’s comeback. He buried a pair of 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions as part of a 10-point third quarter.
“He goes on runs where he gets in the mode and no one can stop him,” Cocke’ said. “That’s what he did in the third quarter and kind of pushed the lead for us.
“That’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s an all-state kid and had a heck of a game.”
Demetrius Crosby pitched in 21 points for the Falcons, including 15 in the second half.
Foss led by six at the end of the third quarter, and limited Pullman to nine points — its lowest quarter of the game — in the fourth.
“We shut them down,” Gittens said. “They got tired.”
The Falcons (22-5) meet No. 10 Lynden (19-7) in the semifinals 5:30 p.m. Friday. The Lions beat Anacortes in a 47-44 quarterfinal thriller to advance, and took third at the SunDome a year ago.
“We’ve got a little bit of heart in us,” Gittens said. “You won’t see us getting tired anytime soon.”
Two more to go.