TACOMA – At some point, Matty McIntyre thought tired legs would set in for Richland.
So the Gonzaga Prep boys basketball coach asked his team to push the pace often and to be physical on defense.
It paid off as the Bullpups defeated the Bombers for a third time this season, 64-57, in the State 4A tournament game Saturday to decide third and fifth places at the Tacoma Dome.
G-Prep finishes 25-2, the most wins in school history.
“It’s very difficult,” McIntyre said of beating a good time three times. “I give Richland a lot of credit. I think it took its toll playing four games in a row. So we really wanted to speed up the tempo and try to get (Riley) Sorn (7-foot-3) out of the game. I think they had to do that quite a few times to rest him. Then we were able to go inside and attack the basket just with our regular post ups.”
Sorn, a junior who is still growing, set single-game and tournament records for block shots. He set the single-game mark with 10 against G-Prep and broke former Ferris standout DeAngelo Casto’s tourney record (25) with 30.
G-Prep had to go three overtimes before beating Richland 81-80 in the subregional final.
Both teams traded surges through the first three quarters. The Bombers outscored G-Prep 17-8 in the second to take a 31-28 lead at halftime.
But the Bullpups wrested control in the third. They did so behind an unlikely player – sophomore Jamaari Jones, who came off the bench to lead G-Prep with 13 points.
“He played a helluva game,” G-Prep senior point guard Kea Vargas said.
“He was fearless,” McIntyre said. “He went right at Riley a couple times. He’s a tough kid and has a bright future ahead of him. He’ll get to show his stuff a lot more next season. So it won’t be a surprise by the end of next season. We’ll come to expect that kind of performance.”
Sam Lockett and Anton Watson were at the front of G-Prep’s fast break, pushing the Bombers as much as possible.
The back breaker came when Sheadon Byrd got open on dribble penetration for a layup to give the Bullpups a 61-52 lead with 1:42 to go.
G-Prep junior forward Devin Culp played tenacious defense.
“He was so solid,” McIntyre said. “This might be the best three-game stretch he’s had all year. He was willing to play defense on the perimeter, guard point guards and then he’d guard Sorn. His defense on Sorn was tremendous.”
McIntyre thought the final four teams were even.
“As far as I’m concerned, Richland and Prep very easily could have been playing in the championship game,” McIntyre said. “Those last four teams were right there neck and neck.”
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.