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Sports >  High school sports

Top-ranked Gonzaga Prep boys keep focus on holding off Lewis and Clark

 (AP)
(AP)

Jamaari Jones may well be a prophet.

The Gonzaga Prep junior used a Tuesday chapel meeting to urge his teammates to keep their focus on today and not get distracted by the future.

“He said there is no state tournament without today. And tomorrow,” G-Prep coach Matty McIntyre said. “It was good for us to hear that. Jamaari has been around and he is a very smart kid.”

For the undefeated and No. 1-ranked Bullpups, those words came in handy Tuesday night, when they needed all their focus to dispatch a spirited Lewis and Clark squad 55-38 in the penultimate Greater Spokane League game of the regular season.

Gonzaga Prep started strongly, building a 22-13 lead after a quarter, but the game turned into a serious defensive struggle in which every shot was contested and open looks didn’t stay open for long.

The teams combined for just 17 second-quarter points and the Bullpups held a 33-19 lead at the half.

The battle continued through the third quarter, when the teams combined to score just a dozen points.

Neither team got into an offensive rhythm, both teams blocked shots from everywhere on the floor and neither team took take advantage of the free-throw line. Lewis and Clark finished 9 of 15, Gonzaga Prep 8 of 16 from the line.

The Tigers got some momentum in the final period and put together an eight-point run to cut the G-Prep lead to 44-34 with more than 3 minutes left.

LC’s Naje Smith had been all over the floor, spearheading the defense, grabbing rebounds and scoring most of his 12 points while trailing the Tigers’ break and slamming home misses.

In flashes underneath the basket, it was a battle of 6-foot-7 big men, with G-Prep’s Anton Watson blocking two of Smith’s shots near the hoop.

But Smith fouled out with 2:37 left to play.

“I can’t say enough about Naje Smith and the kind of player he is,” McIntyre said. “He’s able to affect so much of the game with his length and his athleticism.”

Gonzaga Prep (19-0, 13-0) scored the final six straight points, the final two on back-to-back dunks in transition by Sam Lockett and Watson.

“There are some things that I would have liked to have seen us handle better,” McIntyre said. “This is the kind of game that we needed to play right now to get us ready for what’s ahead. It showed us things that we can definitely improve on. That’s the nice thing about February. There is plenty of time to work on things like that.”

Watson finished with 18 points to lead G-Prep. Jones added 12.

Jonny Love, who was 5 of 5 from the free-throw line for LC (12-7, 9-4), finished with 10 points.

“We’re going to see more games like this,” McIntyre said. “Teams are going to press us. They’re going to try throwing zones at us. We’re just going to have to work on getting better at handling that.”

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