Fred Farris has been making up for lost time this season for Mastery North. Academic struggles kept the 5-foot-10 senior forward off the court periodically in his first three seasons.
Perhaps the time away is why he plays with such passion.
Farris grabbed 10 rebounds off the bench Wednesday at Garden Spot in a 67-61 Class AA victory over Trinity that kept the Pumas' historic season afloat.
Mastery North is in the state tournament for the first time, and the Pumas will meet Loyalsock in the quarterfinals Saturday at a site to be determined.
"My role is to come in, grab offensive rebounds, and get the ball," Farris said.
In the fourth quarter, he did just that. Trinity had cut a 12-point deficit to four with three minutes remaining when Farris finished two key put-backs.
The last drew the ire of a Trinity crowd that sought an over-the-back whistle. It counted, and Farris provided a 65-56 edge with a minute left.
"Nah, I don't think it was over the back," Farris said, smiling. "I just jumped straight up. I was hoping I got that rebound, too, because I knew they were coming back."
Rodney Ross led Mastery North with 18 points. Eli Alvin added 12.
For Trinity, Austin Gilbertson scored 28 points.
Farris and the Pumas were just too much.
"I just knew I had to pick it up for the team," he said. "Coach [Terrance Cook] really wanted me to play on the team even though my grades slipped.
"My freshman year, I was upset because I made the team but couldn't play. Then 10th grade was the same thing because my grades slipped. Eleventh grade, I was on and off, but this year I've played in every single game."
The rewards have been sweet.
"We've had a bunch of ups and downs this season," Farris said. "When it came to [playoff] time everyone doubted us, but we showed and proved. Now look where we're at. We made history for Mastery so everybody is proud of us and the school is behind us."
Trinity 15 19 10 17 - 61
Mastery North 12 22 17 16 - 67
T: Martin Latimore 8, Austin Gilbertson 28, John Vukelich 5, Sean Good 10, Michael Hanes 1, Tim Edwards 9.
MN: Koby Thomas 10, Rodney Ross 18, Eli Alvin 12, Daeqwon Plowden 10, Eriq Washington 2, Asa Kitchen 2, Fred Farris 8, Andre Allen 5.