The Gonzaga Prep Bullpups looked like state champs Wednesday. Now, they’ll find out if they can be state champs when they take on defending champ Federal Way on Thursday.
Mead, meanwhile, ran into a wall against Kentwood.
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By Greg Lee
An hour later, they were at
The Bullpups (24-2) made an eye-opening statement. For their
reward, they’ll face the most difficult challenge of their season this
afternoon when they face off with No. 1-ranked and defending state champ
Mead ran into a brick house in the form of 6-foot-9, 285-pound Josh Smith, who scored 19 points in the first half as the Kentwood Conquerors manhandled the Panthers 57-44.
The Panthers (19-7) take on
Gonzaga Prep 65,
“We were focused. We weren’t going to mess around,” said junior guard Chris Sarbaugh. “At 5:30 this morning coach walked into our room and gave us an apple. We went for a shoot around at 6:30. It woke us up and got us in game mode.”
It was paramount to Bullpups coach Matty McIntyre that his team turn the early start into a positive.
“We wanted the boys to get some shots up and were very intent on them being wide awake and get moving,” McIntyre said of the early rising. “We thought that was critical. We kept preaching with the 9 a.m. game that this is to our advantage so let’s make the most of it.”
Sarbaugh got out the fastest of the Bullpups. He scored 14 of his game-high 19 points in the first half as G-Prep bolted to a 29-11 lead by halftime. He ended up making 9 of 15 shots from the field and had eight rebounds, four assists and four steals.
“I wanted to get us off to a good start,” said Sarbaugh, who was the sixth man on the Bullpups’ fourth-place team at state a year ago.
“He was unbelievable. He was just everywhere,” teammate Ryan Nicholas said. “That’s just how he plays. He came out big today.”
“When he’s in attack mode there’s nobody better,” McIntyre said. “He makes our team go. Ryan Nicholas carries the load, Chris Sarbaugh steps on the gas peddle. And when we’re going fast we’re a pretty good team. He can make a lot of things happen out there.”
Nicholas was saddled with foul trouble. He played just 18 minutes and 21 seconds, finishing with 10 points and five rebounds. His extra time on the bench could be a blessing in a four-day tournament.
The Bullpups’ defense limited
It’s going to take a similar against tall, athletic
“They’re super talented. Everybody has them picked to win it,” McIntyre said. “I just know that our kids will be very well prepared.”
Smith made 9-of-13 shots in the first two quarters, most of those shots coming deep in the key.
The Conquerors got out to a 13-0 lead before Mead’s Brendon Myers hit a 3-pointer at the 3:40 mark.
“They did a nice job. They isolated him (Smith) and they took advantage of his size,” Mead coach Glenn Williams said. “We didn’t see from film that they would do that that much. Hats off to them.”
Despite trailing 35-13 at halftime, Mead opened the second half with increased intensity, using a 9-2 spurt to pull within 37-22 with 5:43 to go in the third.
The Conquerors (17-10) started to shake off their slow
second-half start when Smith, after two misses, completed a three-point play
Mead’s 6-7 senior post Aaron Dunn’s chin got in the way of Smith’s shoulder as he finished off another strong move for a basket with 58 seconds left in the quarter.
Smith finished with a monster double double with 28 points and 18 rebounds to go with five assists and two blocked shots.
Interestingly, the final margin matched
“I told the kids that we needed to win the second half to
build,” said Williams, whose team outscored
Smith said it was important that
“What’s important for us is to make sure we throw out the first punch,” Smith said. “They’re a great team and we didn’t want to wait to see how good they were. We wanted to make them play our game and make them come to us.”
Garrett Swanson came off the bench to lead Mead with 15 points.
The Panthers pulled within 50-41 with 1:49 remaining. But they couldn’t get any closer.