PUYALLUP – The little things go a long way.
That’s what Shadle Park coach Tim Gaebe often tells his boys basketball team.
On Saturday night, those little things seemed to be 50-50 bounces and turnovers, and they made a big difference.
Just not how Gaebe envisioned.
The Highlanders had a 14-point first-half lead slowly melt away as the Wilson Rams pressed their way back into the game and beat Shadle Park 60-59 on big late shots to earn a trip to the Tacoma Dome.
“We just didn’t execute as well as we wanted, as well as we needed down the stretch,” Gaebe said.
Shadle Park’s season ended in the state 3A tournament’s regional round for a second year in a row.
The Highlanders’ early run came from their ability to make outside shots in their halfcourt offense. But when Wilson fell behind 14 in the second quarter, the Rams instituted a full-court trapping press.
Shadle Park’s ballhandlers couldn’t adjust quickly enough.
“We were in control, we were doing well, up 14,” Gaebe said. “We got careless with the basketball and with our decision-making. We needed to execute better.”
Markeith Brown led Shadle Park with 17 points, and fellow seniors Tanner Groves and Andreas Brown chipped in 16 and 14, respectively.
Andreas Brown was a four-year starter for the Highlanders (19-6) at guard, making the Tacoma Dome trip as a freshman only to come up a game short two seasons in a row.
“We came out strong, we fought the whole way, we played our hearts out,” Brown said. “The 50-50 balls just didn’t go our way.”
Emmitt Matthews Jr. led Wilson (19-6) with 17 points and Londrell Hamilton contributed 16, including 10 in the Rams’ 22-point fourth quarter. They will face Capital (22-4) on Wednesday evening in the Tacoma Dome.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.