In the 54-year history of the Bellarmine Booster Gym, many a player wearing the navy blue and white of Bellarmine Prep has made his mark on this venerable floor. Steve Anstett, Bryce McPhee, Casey Calvary, Avery Bradley and Abdul Gaddy, just to name a few. And in this the final season for the old building, you can add another. Donald Gaddy, a lean-in 8-footer with his right hand and subsequent foul shot with 8.7 seconds left, gave Bellarmine a thrilling 55-54 win over the Foss Falcons in a battle of Narrows League division leaders.
The win left the Lions tied at the top of the Bay Division along with Olympia and Central Kitsap, two teams the Lions have defeated this season, with 4-2 records. The loss dropped Foss (5-2) to second place behind Lincoln (5-1) in the Bridge Division.
The difference between these two teams on this night was a sensational clutch play by Gaddy.
“We ran the play for Donald and he came up big. He’s a great player who is only going to get better,” said Lion’s coach Bernie Salazar about his very talented junior guard.
The Lions had control of the game for the most part, taking a 10-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
If not for the hot hand of Jamal Byrd, who scored 12 of the Falcon’s 21 first-half points, Foss would have been in serious trouble. Byrd finished with a game-high 31 points.
Foss came out of the locker room a different team. In the second half, the Falcons turned up the defense a notch, and Anthony Little gave Byrd some scoring support, his three-pointer with just under a minute to player giving Foss a 53-52 lead.
After Byrd hit one of two foul shots with 20.2 left for a two-point lead, the Lions went to Gaddy for the heroics.
The one-point loss was frustrating for the Falcons after they had clawed their way back into the game.
“I’m proud of the way they competed after we struggled early,” said Falcon head coach Mike Cocke.
“With Jamal and Julian’s leadership this team has really come together. You can’t say enough about our defense in the second half. Gaddy just hit a tremendous shot.”
“We usually run that baseline play in practice a lot with a few options,” said Gaddy. “And it worked to perfection against a very good Foss team, credit our young players, too.”
“This has been a wild ride so far,” said Salazar about the ultra competitive Narrows League. “I’m really pleased about the way our young players have progressed to this point, and they’re only going to get better as we hope to compete at a high level for the rest of the year.”