TACOMA – It wasn’t the shot Gonzaga Prep girls basketball coach Mike Arte wanted.
Arte wasn’t going to turn away the 3-pointer from Laura Stockton with nine seconds remaining that lifted the offensively challenged Bullpups past the Todd Beamer Titans 41-39 in the State 4A tournament semifinals Friday at the Tacoma Dome.
With the clock slipping under 10 seconds, Stockton did what she does best – make a play. Even if it almost looked like she was lunging as she fired the game-winning shot.
“We sucked offensively the last three minutes of the game,” Arte said. “We couldn’t get anything good. We were very fortunate.”
Gonzaga Prep (25-0) gets a chance to repeat tonight when the Bullpups take on Inglemoor (25-1). Tipoff is at 7.
Gonzaga Prep 41, Todd Beamer 39: Arte didn’t mince words. For most of the game, both teams were dogged by outstanding defense. G-Prep – 26-0 and winners of 49 straight – didn’t take its first lead until Otiona Gildon made two free throws with 3:13 to go in the third period.
In the fourth quarter, Gildon, who was limited to two points in the first half, got a putback on her own miss with 5:56 to go.
Moments later, Oona Harrington hit a jumper to put the Bullpups up 38-35 with 4:43 remaining.
G-Prep wouldn’t score again until Stockton’s winner.
Stockton secured the victory by stealing a sideline pass as time expired.
“I knew time was going down and we needed a shot,” Stockton said. “We were holding it a little too long but we got it up and it went in. I couldn’t be more excited right now and I can hardly breathe.”
It was just the third time that G-Prep has trailed at halftime. Its 14 points in the first two quarters were a season low.
“What else could go wrong (in the first half) and we were down six,” Arte said. “We told them at halftime we were fortunate. We let their frantic style dictate a lot of the play.”
They shot poorly in the first half (5 of 23) and had nine turnovers. The only thing the Bullpups did well was play defense, limiting Beamer (24-2) to 20.
This is the ninth time in the last 10 years – five in a row – and 12th in the last 15 that a GSL team has played in the final.
Stockton was asked if it was the best shooting form she’s ever had on a 3-point attempt.
“Well it’s the only 3 I made tonight,” she said. “It felt pretty good.”
Stockton tipped her hat to the Titans.
“They’re a great team. They held us to very little points,” Stockton said. “We played poorly (offensively), especially in the first half. At halftime we talked about picking it up.”
Picking it up were Harrington, who had 10 points, and guard Tayler Drynan, who didn’t have a turnover against tough defense. She also made two 3-pointers.
Inglemoor 65, Moses Lake 60: The Chiefs didn’t have an answer for University of Washington-bound Deja Strother, a 6-foot-5 post. Strother finished with 18 points, 16 rebounds, five blocked shots and two assists.
The teams went into the fourth quarter tied at 39-all.
Inglemoor never trailed in the fourth. Moses Lake pulled within 50-48 when Jessie Loera hit a 3-pointer. The Vikings sealed the win at the foul line late.
Loera led Moses Lake (22-3) with 25 points and three assists. McKenna Walker added 17 points.
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