The Lewis and Clark girls basketball team’s 56-51 win over Gonzaga Prep in the District 8 4A championship game may have been as a program victory as anything else.
The matchup came down to experience in similar situations against trying to overcome a lack of experience.
It was the Tigers earning the win more than the Bullpups gagging.
What’s interesting, to say the least, is LC coach Jim Redmon didn’t know which team would show up at district. It’s not like his team was going into postseason on a high note. The Tigers lost two of their final three regular-season games.
Now, the Tigers might just make some noise when the State 4A tournament begins Friday with first-round regional games. LC (16-6) takes on No. 1-ranked Chiawana (21-2) at Richland High School at 4 p.m. The winner moves on to the quarterfinals in Tacoma and the loser will face the winner of G-Prep (20-4)/Evergreen (17-8), also for a berth to Tacoma. G-Prep and Evergreen play at 7:30.
“It’s a new season, new start,” said LC junior point guard Devyn Galland, who has led the Tigers in scoring all season. “Let’s go out and play like we really can. We’re just pushing forward from here.”
Redmon is thankful to be a No. 1 seed.
“I just think we’re blessed and lucky to win, I really do,” Redmon said. “That’s a very good team (G-Prep).”
What pleased Redmon most was how things came together in the fourth quarter after three quarters of fits and starts.
“Once they realized they needed to do it with each other, things began to change,” Redmon said. “They started playing more as a team and trusting each other. You saw that in the fourth quarter. The first three quarters I saw no trust.”
The G-Prep boys, meanwhile, go to state sort of under the radar – as much under the radar as a team can despite knocking off the second-ranked and top-seeded team.
G-Prep (19-3) went to state last year considered a challenger for the title only to suffer a disappointing 1-2 appearance.
The Bullpups didn’t have to rebuild this year, but they had to add some new parts – especially when they graduated the Greater Spokane League’s most valuable player in post Ryan Nicholas and lost potential senior starter Charlie Hopkins to a season-ending knee injury suffered in football.
Senior guards Chris Sarbaugh and Parker Kelly were starters last year and they were among the Bullpups with teary red eyes following state. They’re highly motivated to bring home a trophy.
The trek to Tacoma begins with a rematch Friday when G-Prep faces Columbia Basin Big Nine top seed Davis (19-3) at Richland. Tipoff is at 9:15.
The teams met in a season opener at the SunDome in Yakima. Davis won 59-46.
The G-Prep/Davis winner moves on to the quarterfinals in Tacoma. The loser turns around and faces the Ferris (22-2)/Evergreen (17-7) winner on Saturday for an opportunity to advance. Ferris and Evergreen play at 5:45.
“We’re rocking and rolling right now,” G-Prep coach Matty McIntyre said. “We’ll be a tough team to beat.”
McIntyre expected his team to play solid defense. What he didn’t know about was offense. That has come around in recent weeks.
“This team has found its identity on offense,” McIntyre said. “We can do a lot of different things. The kids understand what we’re trying to accomplish. I think it’s going to be fun the rest of the way.”