TACOMA – Gonzaga Prep basketball players enjoyed their stay so much at the boys State 4A tournament, they decided to extend it.
The Bullpups (26-4) went to overtime for the second time in the tournament, this time victorious 72-64 over Inglemoor on Saturday afternoon at the Tacoma Dome for the fourth-place trophy.
Facing a rangy and disciplined foe that made scoring inside difficult, the Bullpups poured home nine 3-pointers from guards David Stockton and Sean Fischer to stay in the game and made 8 of 11 free throws in the final 1 minute, 27 seconds of overtime to win it.
“The last two weeks, the maturity the players gained was remarkable,” said Bullpups coach Mike Haugen, who felt they had struggled through the January grind and into postseason. “I thought they played calmly all tournament.”
Stockton had his best game of the four days, hitting four 3-pointers – three in the first half – and finishing with 22 points.
“He made good decisions today, shot well and wasn’t pressing as much,” Haugen said.
Fischer, like he did Friday, went scoreless in the first half, but in the second went off for 21 points, including five 3-pointers.
Two came back-to-back in the third quarter, doing his part to wipe out a five-point deficit and put G-Prep ahead 48-45. His fifth opened the overtime period and, coupled with an inside basket by Travis Long, gave Prep a five-point lead. This time the Bullpups would maintain it, unlike during the fourth quarter, when Inglemoor rallied from a 55-50 deficit in the final 50 seconds.
The Vikings’ Andy Nwaelele had broken open for a 3-pointer that provided hope.
“Like usual, that was my fault,” Stockton said. “I like to turn my head.”
And he lost his man. Making amends, he scored seven points in OT.
“We just had to work inside and out and look for rhythm shots,” Stockton said. “If we just move the ball we can execute with anybody and end up on top.”
Prep trailed 12-7 in the first quarter, but nearly caught up when Stockton hit his first 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Bullpups led by as many as four points in the second quarter. Stockton had two more 3-pointers to finish the half with 11 points, and Ryan Nicholas scored five of his seven first-half points.
But, Inglemoor, spreading the floor in a 1-3-1 offensive set and aided by G-Prep having only one starter on the floor and little scoring power, finished with a 10-4 run and the halftime lead.
After the break, Fischer surfaced. He shot Prep to a 36-33 lead. And when the Bullpups needed a jolt after falling behind 43-38 through three quarters, Fischer delivered. He scored eight points, making two 3-pointers.
“It takes him awhile to warm up, I guess,” Haugen said.
Inglemoor’s Adam McElwee made three free throws when fouled on a shot attempt for a tie.
Still, G-Prep had a chance to win in regulation, if not for missing 2 of 4 free throws in the final 37 seconds. Tom Campbell sent it to overtime with a tipin off a missed Vikings shot with 5 seconds left. Fischer’s final shot went off the front rim.
But he was true to open OT and the Bullpups prevailed.
“That was a very good team,” Haugen said. “They had better balance than I thought they did. We gutted it up.”
Four Vikings finished in double figures and Nwaelele was a point away. G-Prep had three players in double figures, and Nicholas finished with 16 and 11 rebounds.
“In the overtime, I thought we executed our set stuff really well,” Haugen said. “The seniors have been just huge.”