Gonzaga Prep boys basketball coach Matty McIntyre marvels when he thinks about how much his team has grown from the season opener to the District 8 4A championship game Friday.
Truthfully, McIntyre didn’t know what the season would hold. But he did know this – his Bullpups would play defense as if their lives depended on it.
Gonzaga Prep, which has built an identity on defense, took it to another level Friday, snapping the Greater Spokane League champion Ferris Saxons’ winning streak at 19 in a 58-50 decision at University.
Now McIntyre will have a true measuring stick when the Bullpups (19-3) face Columbia Basin Big Nine district champion Davis (19-3) in a state opener Friday at Richland High School. The Pirates of Yakima beat Gonzaga Prep 59-46 in a season opener at the SunDome in Yakima.
Ferris (20-2) and Rogers (9-14) meet this afternoon at 4 in an elimination game. The winner goes on to entertain the CBBN runner-up on Tuesday for a berth to state.
Gonzaga Prep 58, Ferris 50: Defense was served from the opening tip in this physical game between the GSL’s best teams.
Players from both teams were flying around and earning floor burns. Neither team had much in their fuel tanks in the end.
After the teams played to a 23-23 tie at halftime, the third quarter played out like most of the first half until Shane Schmidlkofer got behind the Saxons’ defense for a basket from close range with 16 seconds remaining in the period, putting the Bullpups ahead 38-36.
The Saxons’ Riley Stockton drove through the key for a basket, giving the Saxons their final lead at 41-40 with 6:02 remaining in the fourth quarter.
A 7-0 spurt by G-Prep gave it a cushion it didn’t relinquish. Three players scored in the short surge.
Fast forward to the final minutes, Jordan Tonani pulled Ferris within 54-50 when he got a steal out of a trap and was fouled with 1:05 to go. He made both free throws.
Parker Kelly, the second-leading scorer in the GSL who was limited to two points in the first half, made 4 of 4 free throws in the final 16 seconds to secure the win.
Ferris swept G-Prep in league by 65-56 and 49-38 counts.
It was a dunk late in the second game that inspired the Bullpups in the district final, senior guard Chris Sarbaugh said.
“We were so motivated ever since that last play at our place when (they) dunked it. It was a mistake,” said Sarbaugh, who scored a team-high 17 points to go with six rebounds, two assists and two steals. “We got them back. We thought it was disrespectful. We used that as motivation.”
Sarbaugh, too, was amazed with the Bullpups’ growth this season.
“We worked so hard,” Sarbaugh said. “We improved so much. All the young guys worked their butts off in practice. They got us better every day and we got better every day. I’m just as happy as I could ever be.”
Kelly finished with 14 points and Schmidlkofer had 10.
McIntyre said his team had to be at its best to win Friday.
“We knew that we could get over the hump,” McIntyre said. “Quite honestly we weren’t very pleased with how we played the first two times against them. We played fabulous. We held it together with Band-Aids in the first half and the kids just battled.”
Stockton led Ferris with 17 points and Tonani had 14.
Kelly wasn’t concerned even though he had just two points in the first half.
“The difference in the game was we believed in each other and the coaches did a great job in coaching us up,” Kelly said. “They kept us thinking we could win. In the end that’s why we won.”
Rogers 67, Central Valley 52: The Pirates built their biggest lead at 56-35 with 6 minutes to go, and it was too big of a hole for the Bears.
Nik Hellenthal led Rogers with 17 points and 10 rebounds, Deavon Daniels had a game-high 22 points and Steve Delvecchio had 12.
Tyler Chamberlain and Joseph Guerrinha had 15 points each for CV (10-12).