RICHLAND – If ever there was an example of men against boys it was Friday in the State 4A basketball tournament openers at Art Dawald Gym.
The Gonzaga Prep Bullpups sliced and diced past the Columbia Basin Big Nine district champ Davis Pirates 72-59 while the Ferris Saxons had no difficulty getting past the Evergreen Plainsmen of Vancouver 62-49.
Gonzaga Prep (20-3) punched its ticket to the Elite Eight next week in Tacoma while Ferris (23-2) can do likewise when it meets Davis (19-4) this afternoon at 3 in an elimination game.
Gonzaga Prep 72, Davis 59: These teams met in a season opener at the SunDome in Yakima. The Bullpups, without starters TJ Bracey and Stephen Ferraro, fell 59-46.
The teams battled for a quarter with Davis taking a 16-14 lead into the second period. But the final 24 minutes belonged to the Bullpups.
G-Prep built as much as a 14-point lead in the second before Davis trimmed it in half by intermission (37-30).
The Bullpups left no doubt in the second half, though.
“We’ve been battle tested and we’re peaking at the right time which doesn’t hurt,” G-Prep coach Matty McIntyre said. “We didn’t have TJ or Stephen, they were injured from football (in the season opener). So we were getting deep into our bench and they were green as could be. With this game we had a lot of veteran leadership out there. The guys that gave us big minutes were guys that played at state last year.”
Seniors Chris Sarbaugh and Parker Kelly were particularly big – along with Ferraro. Kelly scored 17 of his 21 points in the first half. With Davis cheating towards Kelly in the second half, Sarbaugh and Ferraro stepped up. Sarbaugh had 13 of his 21 and Ferraro had 10 of his 15 in the final two quarters.
“The kids showed our maturity,” McIntyre said.
Ferraro had a team-high 10 rebounds and Bracey had eight assists.
Ferris 62, Evergreen 49: It’s no coincidence that when Taylor Kamitomo plays well the Saxons play well.
The 6-foot-2 senior scored 15 of his game-high 19 points in the first half as the Saxons cruised.
Kamitomo and senior teammate Riley Stockton played suffocating defense on Evergreen’s 6-10 junior post Caleb Dressler, holding him to 10 points – 11 below his season average.
The Saxons used a 5-0 spurt to end the first half to take a 24-19 lead into halftime. Defense allowed them to separate in the second half.
“We wanted to beat him to the block and not let him get there,” Kamitomo said of the defensive strategy against Dressler. “If he got there we were going to play behind him and help down. He’s pretty big and he’s not too skinny either. I definitely wasn’t going to win the vertical battle. I had to push him out.”
It was the Saxons’ third straight win after falling to Gonzaga Prep in the District 8 championship game. Kamitomo, the lone Saxon to play all 32 minutes, rated Ferris’ play a “B”. He said it will take closer to an “A” for the Saxons to advance to Tacoma.
“We came out and played tough and got the job done,” Kamitomo said.
Stockton didn’t think the Saxons had to play any differently than they had all season to counter the Plainsmen (17-8).
“We just needed to play our game and things were going to take care of themselves,” said Stockton, who had 12 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. “Taylor’s just been a stud for us, especially lately.”
Junior guard Nate Galgalo came off the bench to hit two 3-pointers that were key in the Saxons’ second-half surge.
“He’s been an unheralded bench player and he came in and hit a couple of big 3s and played good defense,” Stockton said. “I couldn’t be happier for him because he works the hardest in practice.”
Two free throws from Jordan Tonani gave Ferris its biggest lead at 59-43 with 2:48 remaining.
Chris Wilson was the third Saxon in double figures with 12 points. Chase Haack had nine rebounds.