Tuesday, January 22
The game had all the makings of a classic: an upstart young team driving across the state to take on the number one team in a larger classification, confident about their ability to pull the upset. The favorites, down two starters to injuries, entered the game unfamiliar about the Spokane team with a new coach, while the underdogs knew exactly what to expect from the highly-touted home team.
Saint George's versus Brewster, Dragons versus Bears. "B" versus "A."
The game left no doubt that both teams are talented, and the quarter scores were evident of the game's close nature. First quarter: Brewster 12, St. George's 8. Halftime: Brewster 26, St. George's 25. Third quarter: game tied at 46.
A seesaw affair saw a heavyweight battle between guard Chris Johnson from St. George's, who scored a season-high 27 points, including five three pointers, and David Pendergraft, a mere sophomore with sky-high potential, who dropped in 34 points on 15 of 19 shooting, adding 18 rebounds and multiple assists to his statistics.
The fourth quarter, however, left no doubt as to the identity of the best player in the gym. Seemingly turning on a switch and kicking it into high gear, David Pendergraft, affectionately dubbed "Pendo" by his teammates and fans, took over the game. Despite foul trouble, he played aggressively for every rebound, every loose ball. And, of course, he scored-- often.
David's outside game is not suspect at all, but the Brewster Bears need him on the inside, and on Tuesday night, he delivered. Despite a front line for St. George's that included heights of 6'9", 6'5", and 6'4", Pendo was able to dominate inside, getting himself open and then hitting nothing but the bottom of the net with short runners, baseline jumpers, and powerful post moves. When put under pressure, he dished the ball effectively, playing unselfishly, despite the fact that his talent warrants even more shots per game than he usually takes.
By the end of the night, David had led his team to yet another victory, a game closer than the score indicates, 67-56. Late in the fourth, a breakaway jam sealed the deal for the Bears, who, at 14-0, will surely retain their top ranking in the state.
After the game, like a true competitor, David congratulated the St. George's team on their efforts, complimenting their style of play and talent, and recognizing the fact that Brewster had defeated a quality team. With genuine smiles, David exemplified sportsmanship, despite playing a role on the court that leads many towards arrogant behavior.
Gonzaga University, by garnering an early commitment from David Pendergraft, got a steal. David is the real deal, who, as a sophomore, will only continue to grow and mature in the next two years, as he prepares to join the Bulldog program. He already has the broad shoulders required to put on significant upper body strength, and there is no doubt he will continue to bulk up to improve his already strong frame. Though some of his talents have yet to be refined fully, the hints of greatness are there already: the silky smooth shooting touch, the leadership skills, the unselfishness. Tuesday night, though only a glimpse into his talents, left no doubt that success will come to Pendo, a player who is one to be emulated both on and off the court.