Mead will play for fifth or eighth place Saturday while Gonzaga Prep was eliminated.
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Not that a season-ending loss couldn’t have happened. But back-to-back losses wasn’t the way Gonzaga Prep expected to conclude the season.
Still reeling from an overtime setback in the quarterfinals, the Bullpups started flat and never found their form as the Decatur Gators eliminated Gonzaga Prep 48-45 at the State 4A tournament Friday afternoon at the Tacoma Dome.
Mead secured a trophy as the Panthers held off the Lincoln Abes 57-52.
The Panthers (21-7) meet Skyline (22-4) this morning to decide fifth and eighth places at 11:30.
Decatur 48, Gonzaga Prep 45: The Bullpups had two 3-point shots at tying the game in the last six seconds, but neither would fall.
Nicholas scored what would prove to be the final two points of his illustrious career with 1:07 remaining with two free throws, pulling G-Prep (24-4) within 46-45.
Then with the shot clock winding down, the Gators’ Jordan McCloud hit a jumper from the free-throw line to extend the lead to 48-45.
G-Prep called timeout, trying to set up a play for junior
guard Parker Kelly. But
After a missed
“Gonzaga Prep was arguably the best team in the tournament,”
Olson said. “
Nicholas finished with a game-high 26 points. He scored all eight of the Bullpups’ points in the first quarter and 14 of their 19 in the first half.
In the second half, the Gators packed in a zone. But the Bullpups never could find the range. Usually sharpshooting Kelly was 3-of-15 overall and 1-of-11 on 3-point attempts.
“We’re going to stick with him through thick and thin,” G-Prep coach Matty McIntyre said of Kelly. “We know there are going to be times where he doesn’t make all of them. But he’s our guy and that’s where we put our trust. I’m still very confident as his career wears on he’ll hit a lot of big shots for us.”
McIntyre has no doubt which team is the best in the state.
“This is going to sound a little bit funny but I truly believe that I have the 11 best players in the state,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t come back with the gold ball (state title) because that was our goal, but I wouldn’t change anything. I wouldn’t trade any of my 11 guys for anybody in the state. I think we have a state championship team right there.
“We didn’t play like it today. I wish we would have played better, but the kids are absolutely exhausted. I’m not making excuses, but to play the overtime and emotionally to ask 16- and 17-year-old boys to turn around in less than a 24-hour period, it’s been an exhausting process. The kids battled their hearts out. We couldn’t make shots. We kept trying to force feed it into Ryan as much as possible and he kept bringing it and bringing it like he has all year, but we kept looking for a second scorer and it never happened.”
Nicholas sensed his team was going to struggle.
“Last night was such an emotional loss,” Nicholas said. “We tried but we just didn’t have it.”
Mead 57, Lincoln 52: Senior small forward Mitch Kayser, a two-year starter, has been largely overshadowed in his career.
He’s picking an opportune time to step up. Kayser hit a couple of big shots, finishing with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists as Mead turned back a final surge by the Abes.
“He’s an unheralded kid who just plays his tail off,” Mead coach Glenn Williams said. “It’s a cliché, but what he’s done this year hasn’t always shown up on the stat sheet. Mitchy just guts things out.”
If Mead wins today, the fifth-place trophy will be the second-best finish in school history.
“A win (today) and we’ll be the second-best team to come through Mead,” Kayser said.
Three times Mead started to separate from
Two free throws by Aaron Dunn gave Mead a 51-45 lead with
2:06 to go. But the Abes’ Jordan Russell hit a 3-pointer and followed moments later
with an 18-foot jumper as
Mead point guard Brendon Myers made 4 of 4 free throws and Kayser hit two foul shots as Mead prevailed.
“I told them they’re widening their footprint on the legacy of Mead basketball,” Mead coach Glenn Williams said. “It’s a pretty important piece of history for these kids. They’ve had such an indomitable will at state.”
Dunn led Mead with 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists.