For the first time this season – perhaps the first time in two years – the Gonzaga Prep girls basketball team didn’t finish.
Possessing a five-point lead with under 3 minutes to play, Gonzaga Prep missed shots it normally makes and committed two costly turnovers in the final minute, as Miami Country Day prevailed 60-59 in the Dick’s Sporting Goods/ESPN national high school tournament Friday morning at Christ the King High School in Queens, New York.
The two-time state champion Bullpups’ extended season ends at 27-1 and their 50-game winning streak was snapped in a game broadcast live on ESPNU.
“We’ve been very fortunate in that area for a long time,” G-Prep coach Mike Arte said of end-game situations. “We weren’t as fortunate the last 3 minutes as we were the last couple of years. They may have had more athletes but we were the better basketball team.”
The Spartans trailed 53-48 after G-Prep’s Laura Stockton made a basket. But sophomore Kelsey Marshall took over, scoring eight of Miami Country Day’s final 12 points including a 3-pointer that tied the score at 55-55 with 1:26 remaining.
Stockton hit both ends of a one-and-one with 1:17 to give the Bullpups their last lead at 57-55.
G-Prep had a final possession, trailing 60-57. But a contested 3-point shot hit the backboard. But with the clock under 2 seconds, Molly McDermott got the rebound and made a 5-footer at the buzzer.
University of Oregon-bound Otiona Gildon had a big game, scoring a team-high 26 points to go with a season-high 19 rebounds. Stockton, hampered by foul trouble in the fourth quarter, filled the statistical list as usual. She scored 16 points, seven assists, five rebounds, four steals.
The Spartans frequently pressured full court before dropping into a 2-3 zone. The Bullpups struggled at state against a 2-3 zone but Friday got plenty of open shots but had difficulty converting at times. G-Prep shot 37 percent from the field (22 of 60).
The Bullpups flew to New York early Thursday morning and had to rise early Spokane time Friday to play Miami Country Day in an 8 o’clock tipoff.
Both teams struggled early – perhaps adjusting to the early start and to each other. Miami Country Day (31-2) shot 1-of-18 from the field in the first quarter.
G-Prep led 13-4 after the first eight minutes. A rebound basket by Stockton to open the second period gave the Bullpups their biggest lead at 15-4.
The Spartans fought back, taking their first lead on a 3-pointer at 24-23 with 55 seconds left before haltime. A short-corner jumper by Gildon put the Bullpups ahead at 25-24. MCD regained the lead briefly on a fourth 3-pointer before G-Prep forged a 27-27 tie going into halftime when Lauren Weir hit a short jumper off a nice pass from Stockton.
The second half was tightly contested. Twice in the third quarter MCD led by three points, its biggest leads to that point. Overall, the Spartans never led by more than three.
After the Spartans took a 41-38 lead early in the fourth, G-Prep put together a nice surge.
A 15-7 run, behind the contributions of several players, allowed the Bullpups to build a 53-48 lead with about 3 minutes to play.
“We weren’t in awe of the situation so I was very pleased with that,” Arte said. “We went out and competed very hard even when things weren’t going our way. I’m very proud of them. This experience has been amazing. They’re upset that they lost. They’re competitors. They’re mad at themselves. From a team standpoint, this has been a wonderful experience. It was an honor to be invited.”