The coaching mantra that one player won’t beat you was never more evident than Tuesday night at Gonzaga Prep.
Moses Lake four-year starter and college-bound standout Jordan Loera is one of the best in Washington State. The Bullpups have a standout or two of their own.
But it was their depth and role players that propelled G-Prep during the 65-47 victory over the Chiefs that sends the Greater Spokane League regular-season champions to the State 4A tournament for just the third time in school history.
Each trip has come 14 years apart, G-Prep’s last coming in 1997.
“How many years have we been one game away?” wondered coach Mike Arte. “I’ll bet it’s been five or six times in the last 12 or 13 we’ve played the last game winner-to-state.”
All that’s in the past after senior twins Ashley and Taylor Largent made Loera work hard for the 24 points she scored on the Bullpups and G-Prep stifled the rest of Moses Lake’s lineup.
Sophomore Madison Wright and Megan Steilen came off the bench and nearly matched Loera with their combined 22 points.
, all coming at seemingly critical times.
There were also the key contributions fans have come to expect of senior post Hannah Murray, who reverted back to her point guard days and steadied a foul-ravaged team’s ship.
“In the third quarter we went to ‘flat’ (a Bullpup offense) and she did a nice job of finding the open players,” said Arte. “She is the glue on our team.”
While Loera scored 16 of Moses Lake’s 20 first-half points, six G-Prep players contributed to a 12-point lead.
Athletic youngster Wright stood out, contributing seven in her substitute role.
The first quarter was up-and-down by both teams, turnover-prone (12 by the Chiefs) and foul-filled. G-Prep outscored Moses Lake 11-4 over the final half of the second quarter and ran off the first eight points of the third for a seemingly comfortable 40-20 lead.
It wasn’t until sophomore reserve Sadie Nielsen made a basket with 4 minutes, 40 seconds left in the third quarter that someone other than Loera scored from the field.
But the Bullpups couldn’t stand prosperity and bludgeoned Moses Lake back into the game. They committed 24 fouls (Moses Lake had 21) in the contest.
The Chiefs went 23 for 29 from the foul line and despite only 10 field goals in the 32-minute game, trailed 54-41 with 2:41 remaining.
“We’ve played that way for years,” said Arte. “We’ve been trying to tone them down and be more disciplined.”
Steilen, 7 for 8 from the line (G-Prep was 22 of 34 overall), hit two clutch free throws and Wright scored to make it 58-41 with 1:37 to go.
The Bullpups could finally celebrate.
“A few times we got nutty, but didn’t get too nutty out there,” Arte said. “They did nice job of breaking press when they needed to and attacking the basket. It was a good win.”
Tia Presley’s 16 points, despite sitting substantial minutes in foul trouble, gives her 1,640 for her career, second all time among Greater Spokane League girls.
The Bullpups (20-4) play Evergreen of Vancouver (17-8) at 4 p.m. Friday.