The core of the Gonzaga Prep girls basketball team has played in big games.
Seniors Otiona Gildon, Oona Harrington, Lauren Weir and Laura Stockton have been to national club tournaments and won national championships.
To that end, Bullpups coach Mike Arte believes his team won’t be intimidated when they play in the Dick’s Sporting Goods/ESPN national high school tournament on Friday.
“The girls have played in a lot of big games. They understand what this will be like,” Arte said. “I’ll take my girls any day.”
Two-time State 4A champion Gonzaga Prep (27-0), which finished the recent season with a 50-game winning streak, takes on Miami Country Day (30-2) at Christ the King High School north of New York. Tipoff is at 8 a.m. Pacific time. The game will be televised live on ESPNU.
Miami Country Day is ranked 12th in this week’s CBS MaxPreps Xcellent 25 rankings and G-Prep is 13th. In the other matchup in the four-team tourney, Dillard (Florida), 30-1 and ranked 11th, faces unranked South Shore of Brooklyn, 20-4, the New York City Public Schools Athletic League champion.
The winners meet Saturday morning in the final at Madison Square Garden. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2.
G-Prep and Miami Country Day have some similarities. Both are repeat state champions. Miami Country Day is the 3A state champ in a state that features eight classifications.
The teams also returned four starters this year. An advantage, though, goes to Miami Country Day, which features a deeper bench.
Both teams also feature two players who have signed with NCAA Division I schools.
“They’re very, very, very – a lot of verys – athletic,” said Arte, who has video of the team’s state semifinal game and one other game. “They have a long bench.”
Stockton is looking forward to the trip and challenge.
“I can probably speak for the whole team and say we’re excited and it’s an awesome opportunity,” she said. “They like to press and move around. It should be fun.”
Arte said practices have been sharp overall. The Bullpups had seven practices before flying to New York this morning.
“It’s going to be a big challenge to say the least,” Arte said. “These girls have never backed down to a challenge. Playing Inglemoor and Todd Beamer at state were challenges.”
Defense will be a key, Arte said.
“We’ll have to have extreme focus,” he said. “We can’t let them drive to the rim.”