It figured to be a matchup of nearby schools each with dominant big men looking to take his team to the state quarterfinals.
That didn't matter in the final minutes.
Guard Desmond Howard scored seven points in the final 45 seconds, sandwiched by Ryan Richardson's 3-pointer, and Perry pulled off an improbable 68-67 win over seventh-seeded Basha to advance to the state quarterfinals for the first time in the school's brief history.
The Pumas' prize? A meeting with No. 2 Pinnacle at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at ASU's Wells Fargo Arena.
"It's all about faith and believing," said Howard, whose free throws with three seconds left were the difference on Saturday. "When you're down, there are trials and tribulations but these guys stick together. We were the better team -- as a whole -- 1 to 14."
Down 16 points with 4:15 to play, No. 23 seed Perry could have called it a year, a victim of some late season losses and the failure to reach the sectional playoffs. But the Pumas weren't quite ready to pack it in.
"That's what they have been taught but it's another thing to be taught that and in the midst of a battle and fight like heck to come back on someone else's floor against your down-the-street rival," Perry coach Mark Nold said. "It was unbelievable. I love these guys."
The Pumas ran off 12 straight points and then got some luck as Basha missed five free throws in the final minute. That set up Howard for some heroics.
"I was in the flow of the game," Howard said of the final play. "I'm usually dishing it out, really unselfish. But when it came down to it, I just thought I was that guy to do it."
Howard said he prayed before hitting the game-winning free throws.
"I'm just appreciative of my coaches keeping me in," he said. "I had a few turnovers, I could have been taken out. That coach over there had faith in me."
He was right.
"He willed our team to win tonight," Nold said. "He was going to refuse to lose. We're down 12, we're down 12, nobody quit but he was the first one in there cheering. He was a big reason why we came back."'
Basha big man Torren Jones (19 points) tried to be philosophical after the game.
"Some people work on free throws all day, some people work on different things," he said. "His thing was free throws and he went to the line and hit them down. You can't blame him for that."
Perry actually had control of the game early, leading 32-23 at the half. But Basha finally started to get its offense in gear, with 6-foot-8 Jones and 6-9 Maurice Kirby taking charge inside. Jones scored eight of his team high 18 in the first four minutes of the third quarter. Basha started the half on a 14-2 run and took the lead for the first time since the first four minutes of the game at 37-34 with 4:27 left.
The Bears pushed it up again in the fourth quarter with Jaron Hopkins asserting himself. Hopkins had 10 points in a 17-3 start for Basha that left Perry trailing 60-44 with 4:15 to go.
"We're not a 23 seed," Nold said. "We don't believe we are a 23 seed. We were six until we hit a bump there (and lost) the last three games. Throw the seeds out the window."
It started with Josh Uhlorn's 3-pointer, the first of three during the stretch. A pair of Basha turnovers led to points and when Richardson stole a pass and got the ball to 6-10 Lucas O'Brien for a dunk, the visitors were within four with 1:32 remaining.
Nold told his team to foul and it worked. Basha missed five of its final 10 free throws, all in the final minute. That left the door open. Howard converted a 3-point play, making the first of five straight free throws himself with 44.7 seconds left.
Inside 40 seconds and down by three, Howard lost the ball. Hopkins scored on the other end and Basha led 66-61. But Richardson hit a three, Basha's Richard Holt made one of two free throws and with a 67-64, Basha quickly fouled Howard near midcourt, keeping the Pumas from setting up a game-tying 3-pointer.
Howard made his free throws and Uhlorn fouled outside threat Nate Markovich.
He missed them with 9.2 seconds left and Howard brought the ball upcourt and looked like he was going to drive to the basket when he was fouled by Holt.