Freddie Lash had waited 360 days for a chance at redemption, and for two quarters, it looked all for naught.
The eighth-ranked Gilbert boys basketball team fell behind No. 2 Basha by nine at intermission, but used a hot-shooting second half to pull off the long-awaited upset, 68-52 in the MLK Basketball Classic on Monday at Wells Fargo Arena.
Lash, Gilbert's senior shooting guard, remembered the 62-35 pasting the Bears handed the Tigers a season ago, something the team used as motivation for this one.
"Last year was one of my worst seasons because we only won eight games," Lash said. "Basha was one of the teams that beat us by, like, 30, so we had to come back at them. I just wanted payback. We were waiting for this game."
It looked like history would repeat itself in the first half, as Maurice Kirby and Jaron Hopkins helped Basha to a 30-21 halftime lead. The Tigers trimmed the deficit to two points heading into the fourth, and finished the final eight minutes on a 23-5 run to cruise to the victory.
Basha didn't score its first points of the fourth quarter until a three-point play from Torren Jones with 3:02 remaining. By that time, Gilbert had a 62-50 lead and the Bears (16-3) never seriously threatened.
"I think we hung our heads a little bit," Basha coach Brad Pinter said. "We got out of the game mentally. Once you get out of the game mentally, then everything starts to fall (apart) for you."
Gilbert hit 18-of-29 shots in the second half and shot 52.8 percent from the field for the contest. Lash led the way with 24 points. Conner Helvig added 10.
Basha struggled mightily in the second half, getting outscored by 25. Hopkins finished with a team-high 14 points, but hit only 6-of-15 shots. Jones (13 points) and Kirby (11) both scored in double figures, but Gilbert's 2-3 zone kept them from dominating inside.
"The plan was to keep Jaron out of the paint and keep the two big men out of the paint," Lash said. "Plug it up and make them shoot jump shots."
Gilbert (13-4) has now won four in a row, including the past three over Mesquite, Highland and Basha all by 15 points or more.
"Our chemistry is just out of the gym right now," Lash said. "I've never felt this confident in the team before."
Other boys hoops results from the MLK Basketball Classic:
No. 3 Pinnacle 75, Horizon 56: Dorian Pickens was 8-of-11 from the field for 21 points and added seven rebounds as the Pioneers cruised. Pinnacle led by 17 points at the half and the game was never in doubt. Drew Bender added 13 points and six rebounds. Eric Lewis had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Horizon.
Desert Mountain 60, Westwood 47: The Wolves (15-5) used a strong second half to defeat the Warriors. Westwood led by three at intermission but Desert Mountain's pressure defense forced 21 turnovers as the team rallied for the win. Diego Magana led the way for the Wolves with 16 points and five rebounds, while Austin Cooke added 14 points. Josh Brown led Westwood (9-10) with 13 points and nine rebounds.