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G-Prep girls aren’t done, head to New York for elite tournament

Laura Stockton, right, and Bullpups will play Miami Country Day in New York City. (Dan Pelle)
Laura Stockton, right, and Bullpups will play Miami Country Day in New York City. (Dan Pelle)

The basketball season isn’t over yet for the Gonzaga Prep girls team.

Gonzaga Prep, which captured a second straight State 4A championship earlier this month, has accepted an invitation to play in the Dick’s Sporting Goods/ESPN national high school tournament early next month.

Three other state champs from other states have been invited. The Bullpups, who finished 27-0 and have a 50-game winning streak, will take on Miami (Florida) Country Day (30-2) on Friday, April 3, at Christ the King High School near New York City.

Because the game is on Good Friday, G-Prep asked to play in the first game of the tournament, which also includes eight boys teams. Tipoff is at 8 a.m. Pacific time.

If G-Prep wins, it would play in the championship game on April 4 in iconic Madison Square Garden.

“First of all, it’s a great honor to be considered one of the top teams for the tournament,” G-Prep coach Mike Arte said. “Our body of work the last two years has been really good. That was appealing to the selection committee.”

Miami Country Day and G-Prep are ranked 15th and 16th, respectively, in the CBS MaxPreps Xcellent top 25 rankings.

G-Prep athletic director Paul Manfred was contacted about the tournament a month ago. Final consideration, Manfred said, depended on G-Prep defending its state title.

“We made a verbal commitment on Friday and mailed the contract (Monday),” Manfred said.

The games will be televised on ESPN’s family of stations. The opener can be seen on ESPNU. The final will be aired on ESPN2.

The tournament pays for all expenses for the players, coaching staff and managers, Manfred said.

The WIAA extended a waiver for Rainier Beach to play in the tournament last year.

“(WIAA executive director) Mike Colbrese called me about the tournament,” Manfred said. “We applied for the waiver and it was granted.”

WIAA rules allow G-Prep 10 practice days leading up to the tourney. Only players who were on the Bullpups’ varsity roster will be allowed to practice, Manfred said.

Arte said G-Prep will hold its first practice Friday, four more next week and two the week of the tourney. The Bullpups will fly to New York the day before they play.

“It’s a chance of a lifetime,” Manfred said.

Arte said a number of his players have never been to New York.

“We’re going with the opportunity to represent Spokane, Gonzaga Prep and our supporters,” he said. “How cool would it be to play in Madison Square Garden?”

In the other game, Dillard (30-1) of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, takes on South Shore (20-4) of Brooklyn, New York.


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