District 8 4A loser-out basketball games historically are the most difficult in any season.
Such was the case Tuesday when the second-seeded Gonzaga Prep girls survived all visiting Lewis and Clark could throw at them and more for a 38-35 win.
“We did the hardest thing and that’s get out of this league,” Bullpups coach Mike Arte said.
Gonzaga Prep (19-3) travels to Mid-Columbia Conference second-seed Walla Walla (19-4) for another elimination game Friday. Tipoff is at 6.
Once in each half the Bullpups appeared on the brink of putting the Tigers (10-12) away. But LC didn’t oblige.
Two free throws from Otiona Gildon gave G-Prep its biggest lead at 29-18 with 5:34 to go in the third quarter. But LC cut the lead to 31-27 by quarter’s end.
A free throw from Taylor Howlett pulled LC into a 35-35 tie with 3 minutes to go. But a driving layup by Laura Stockton and another free throw by Gildon accounted for the Bullpups’ final points.
On LC’s final possession, it had three 3-point shots. Stockton deflected the Tigers’ final attempt at the buzzer.
G-Prep committed a season-high 28 turnovers – most of which were of the unforced variety.
“They’re up in your grill right when you get the ball and then they swarm,” Stockton said of LC’s defense. “We pulled through as a team.”
After a tightly contested first quarter, the Bullpups used a 10-0 run to separate.
Kayla Leland hit a 3-pointer followed by a three-point play from Stockton as G-Prep surged ahead 23-13 with 1:49 to go before halftime.
Janieva Bates interrupted G-Prep’s run with a 3-pointer at the 1:18 mark. But a 6-foot bank shot by Stockton gave G-Prep a 25-16 lead at halftime.
Stockton, who didn’t take a shot in the first quarter, scored seven points in the second and finished with 13 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists. Gildon led with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“We played incredible defense,” Stockton said. “We had tons of turnovers so we didn’t get a lot of opportunities to score. Defense saved us.”
Arte had an explanation for the miscues.
“A lot of it was we were hurried at times,” Arte said. “We were trying to throw all of our passes without making ball fakes and not getting our heads down and looking underneath them. All those balls were tipped. Give (LC) credit.”
Arte thought familiarity was a factor, too.
“When you play 18 league games and two more district games, everybody knows each other really well,” he said. “The defense really pleased me. They were solid and did some nice things.”
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