Zillah Creates Magic in Shocking 86-83 Victory over Selah
Zillah proved everyone wrong.
Down by 21 in the third quarter, even the most resilient Zillah supporter could see the writing on the wall.
This was Elijah Pepper's moment, a legacy-creating game as he chased 50 points.
And Zillah? Well they were playing their part. Acting as a pit-stop on Selah's road to perfection.
But captain Antonio Salinas was having none of it.
"This team always believed; we kept preaching heart first, heart first. We got on a run, and then took it one possession at a time."
Both team's brought their A+ game in the first quarter. Salinas' 11 points kept Zillah breathing, down only 21-19.
It was was Elijah Pepper's 5 three-pointers in the second quarter that utterly deflated Zillah's spirit. The spark gave Selah a 49-36 lead heading into halftime.
Selah's lead peaked at 66-45 with three minutes left in the third quarter.
That's when Zillah's junior guard Brock Ellis found his shot. He had 11 points in the fourth quarter to aid the comeback.
"It took me a while to get going, but once I hit one, it just kept falling!"
Down 83-81 with nine seconds left in the game, Brock Ellis drained an incredible double-pump three-pointer that would give Zillah the victory.
"It wasn't even supposed to go to me, I just found myself doing it. I will never forget that," said a dazed Brock Ellis minutes after the heroic play.
It's worth mention that Selah started the game 1-9 from the free throw line, Also, Selah's starting guard Calvin Herting finished with 0 points on 0-7 shooting.
Antonio Salinas' had a breakout game with 39 points. But seemed overshadowed by Elijah Pepper's 46 point performance. Something that Zillah coach Mario Mengarelli acknowledged in the post-game.
"He gets offended when his name is left out of those Pepper/Ravet conversations. And I honestly believe he's got a point, he showed that out here tonight."
Through the thick of the rivalry, there was a sense of mutual respect.
"They're probably our toughest opponent yet," said Antonio Salinas, "there's a reason why Elijah Pepper is a D1 recruit, having him on the floor is a game-changer."
Selah vs Zillah is what dreams are made of. A game that neither side will ever forget.
For Selah it was a necessary reality check. An undefeated team with a margin of victory of 35 points, that caliber of success isn't sustainable (nor particularly healthy).
For Zillah it was all about validation. The ghost of their state championship team was practically haunting them at this point in the season.
They needed a signature win to start a new chapter. They found that and then some in this road win against Selah.