Who is best in the west?
MEETING in the gold medal match is the only way a better script could have been written for Ipswich's entrants at the Molten Champion Basketball Schools Queensland tournament on the weekend.
Instead, neighbours St Edmund's College and Ipswich Grammar School battled for bronze after each outfit progressed through to the semi-final stage only to fall to northern powerhouse's Cairns SHS and Ignatius Park College respectively.
The semi-final losses set up mouthwatering medal matches, with the northmen to face off for gold and the best of metropolitan west to settle a long-held score.
St Edmund's entered the contest emotionally flat after being blown away 95-51 by a red hot Cairns' team that made it rain as it drained three pointers from anywhere on the court.
Left shellshocked, the squad had to regroup, recompose and get itself motivated to take on its traditional rival from down the road.
IGS too would need to recover, bounce back mentally and go again after its 105-85 defeat at the hands of Ignatius Park.
It was IGS who started the better of the sides.
With vice-captain Michael Fleming and young gun Deshawn Ross-Paiwan leading the way, Grammar hit a number of early baskets to take the lead.
Ahead by 20 at one stage, it looked as though IGS may run away with the game but their counterparts steadied, rectified their defensive flaws and launched a scintillating run down the fourth quarter stretch.
With about two minutes remaining St Edmund's edged ahead by one point on the back of slick offensive execution.
However, the blue and white's time in front was short-lived.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man.
With 90 seconds to go superstar Ross-Paiwan stepped up and nailed an unbelievable shot from 35 feet as he tumbled out of bounds off balance, only fractionally beating the buzzer of the shot clock.
It was nothing but net.
From there, the game tightened up as each side deliberately fouled its opponents to stop the game clock.
Ultimately, the IGS players held their nerve and shot their way to a hard-earned 107-101 triumph from the line.
St Edmund's College basketball co-ordinator Mark Aiken commended the opposing unit on a successful tournament.
Aiken said St Edmund's was lucky to avoid relegation last year after finishing 14th but knew this team had been blessed with ability and depth after dropping just one game in a stellar AIC season to eventual premier Villanova.
He said the squad spearheaded by captain, Logan Atkins and towering year 11 Queensland Schoolboys representative, Merrick Small had been hopeful of an improved showing at the elite tournament but would not have believed a top four finish was possible five days ago.
"We're very happy,” he said.
"They have exceeded expectations.
"We wouldn't have minded if that final game went a couple of minutes longer.”