Forget the third time, for the Gonzaga Prep Bullpups, it was the fifth time that was the charm.
As in the fifth time the Pups had faced the University Titans. As in a state berth, won by Prep with a surprisingly easy 63-47 win over the Titans in a loser-out game Saturday at the ConAgra Foods/Lamb Westin 4A Boys Regional at Gonzaga University’s McCarthey Center.
In the regional championship game, Eisenhower limited Ferris to 11 first-half points en route to a 67-52 victory and its first regional title.
Those three, along with Pasco, which edged Davis, 55-53, will find out their state 4A first-round opponents this morning.
Gonzaga Prep 63, University 47
The first four times these teams met (non-league, in Greater Spokane play, a league tiebreaker and in district playoffs) the largest margin was eight. There were two overtime games, including a three-OT district battle. Six total points separated them.
But this one was over just after halftime.
Trailing 26-17, U-Hi’s Kyle Olson had a one-and-one with 2.1 seconds left. He hit the first but missed the second. Prep’s Ryan Murphy rebounded, passed to Brandon Kennedy, who dribbled twice and launched a 3-pointer at the buzzer from just inside halfcourt.
He was fouled. Three successful free throws, followed by two quick Murphy buckets to open the third quarter and “we were playing catch-up from then on,” said U-Hi coach Marty Jessett. And the Titans (18-8) couldn’t.
Mostly because the Bullpups, who will take an 18-9 record into next week’s State 4A Tournament in Tacoma, were getting scoring from someone other than Michael Johnson.
Johnson led everyone with 17 points, including 11 in the first half. But Murphy, a 6-foot-3 senior post, had 16, 12 in the second half. And Kennedy, another senior, added 15, including three 3-pointers, after having just four points in Friday night’s loss to Eisenhower.
“Ideally, as with any team, you need three or four guys to score for you,” Prep coach Mike Haugen said. “We have different guys who can score and they didn’t (Friday) night. Today they came through.”
But Haugen pinned this one on the Pups’ defense, a defense that held Titans’ leading scorer Calvin Jurich to one basket and six points (he did have a game-high nine rebounds) and didn’t allow a U-Hi player to reach double figures.
“We were making it hard for them to score,” Haugen said, “and that makes it hard to play the whole game, including playing defense on the other end. Both teams, to be honest, were probably a little tired after tough games (Friday) night.”
Jessett didn’t offer a reason for it, but he did cite the Titans’ 29-percent shooting as the simple reason for the lopsided defeat.
“You’ve got to make shots and we didn’t,” he said.
Eisenhower 67, Ferris 52
“I told them at halftime that all year we had played with heart, going all out,” Ferris coach Barry Olson said of a half that ended 31-11. “In that first half we were so controlled, just being out there, waiting for someone else to make something happen.”
And no did, except Ike’s big men: 6-foot-8 Brandon Johnson, the regional MVP, 6-7 Jack Loofburrow and 6-4 Jerad Groth.
“They are an excellent team,” Olson said of the 23-3 Cadets. “Their guards handle it well enough, they make enough outside shots to keep you honest and those two big guys are tough. They can shoot it, and not just from a foot from the basket, they can go out to 15 feet.”
Johnson finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, but that only tells part of the story. His length inside, along with the long arms of Loofburrow, who finished with 20 points, induced the Saxons (21-4) to play passively on offense in the first half.
“We weren’t playing with energy,” point guard Jon Clift said. “We weren’t attacking, we were trying to shoot over them instead of taking it at them. We were playing a little afraid.”
Clift keyed a second-half comeback that was anything but timid. Keyed by a trapping defense and with the 5-9 junior bombing away from the outside _ he was perfect on four second-half 3-point attempts _ Ferris cut the lead to eight with just less than 5 minutes left.
But the Ike guards, led by Alex Johnson, weathered the storm and the Cadets pulled away in the final minutes. Johnson finished with 12 points and seven assists.
“They were the biggest and the strongest guys we’ve faced all year,” said 6-3 junior Brian Hallett, who finished with 14 points.
Pasco 55, Davis 53
The Bulldogs (20-5) earned a state berth when a 75-foot shot by Davis’ Curtis Gomez-Trimble hit the front rim as time expired. Pasco was led by the 18 points of Bryant Whitby and the 15 of Jeff Middleton. Humberto Perez paced Davis (19-7) with 21.
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