Good defense is most always trumped by better offense.
The Gonzaga Prep boys basketball team found that out early Thursday at Shadle Park.
But the Greater Spokane League champion Bullpups’ offense started to click and, coupled with their usually energetic defense, Gonzaga Prep smothered the Highlanders the final three quarters, 63-47, in the final night of regular-season play.
Third-ranked G-Prep (19-1 overall, 17-1 league) is off until Thursday when it entertains the winner of a Tuesday loser-out opener between No. 5 University and No. 4 Ferris in the District 8 4A tournament.
Shadle Park (14-6, 13-5) is off until Feb. 12 when it plays host to the winner of a Tuesday District 8 3A loser-out game between No. 3 Mt. Spokane and No. 2 Rogers.
The Highlanders made 8 of 13 shots in the first quarter, but, more important, it made 5 of 7 3-point attempts for a 21-7 lead by period’s end.
That hot shooting eluded the Highlanders in the second quarter, seemingly bouncing to the other end of the floor.
G-Prep took advantage, wiping away the deficit with a 13-0 start. The Bullpups actually twice had opportunity to take their first lead, but settled for a 27-27 tie at halftime when Kea Vargas made a 3-pointer.
Bullpups coach Matty McIntyre didn’t use one time out in the first quarter. In fact, he never called one all game.
“Twentieth game into your season, what does a coach say in something like that?” McIntyre said. “Nothing different than what the kids have heard for the last 3 ½ months. The kids have to be able to deal with that kind of adversity. We had something similar the other night.”
Last Tuesday, the Bullpups rallied to hold Ferris to one point in the fourth quarter for a title-securing 43-40 win.
The Bullpups took their first lead at 39-37 when Vargas made the third of five 3-pointers with 1:48 to go in the third quarter.
G-Prep finished the third quarter on a 9-0 surge for a 45-37 lead.
The momentum continued in the final period. The Bullpups, leading 55-47, finished the game on an 8-0 run.
Vargas finished with 18 points. Freshman Anton Watson, a transfer from Coeur d’Alene, had 10 points but more importantly eight rebounds and five steals. Two other Bulldogs, Devin Culp and Logan Adams, had 11 and 10 points respectively.
“We withstood a serious blow that first quarter,” McIntyre said. “I’m proud of the kids for being able to hang in there. There didn’t seem to be any panic in their eyes. They weren’t losing their composure.”
McIntyre switched to a smaller lineup in the second quarter.
“We got some shooters in and started getting the ball reversed and better ball movement,” he said. “That really helped and sped us up in transition.”
McIntyre gave Shadle credit for putting his team in the early hole.
“They shot the ball extremely well and I thought our defense was not perfect but good enough to accomplish some things,” he said. “Sometimes those shots that were going at the beginning of the game, it’s tough to sustain that for 32 minutes.”
Ferris 67, Rogers 49: The visiting Saxons (10-10, 9-9) used a good start and never looked back. Shamrock Campbell led Ferris with 16 points and six rebounds. KJ Hassett led Rogers (4-17, 4-14) with 13 points.
Lewis and Clark 69, Mead 58: The Tigers (16-4, 15-3) got 14 points from Isaiah Hernandez, 12 from Naje Smith and 11 from Dominick Oliveri in turning back the visiting Panthers (10-11, 7-11). Dedrick Pakootas led Mead with 20. Second-seeded LC plays host to No. 3 Central Valley in a district opener Thursday.
Central Valley 56, Mt. Spokane 35: Josh Thomas scored 16 points and had 11 rebounds as the Bears (16-4, 14-4) pulled away from the visiting Wildcats (3-17, 2-16) in the second half. CV outrebounded Mt. Spokane 47-20.
University 85, North Central 55: The visiting Titans (9-11, 9-9) put five players in double figures in the high-scoring game. Austin Dill led U-Hi with 15 points and Spencer Matt added 13. Riley Smith led NC (0-20, 0-18) with 18.
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