Gonzaga Prep, which entered as the two-time defending state champion, is many things. Athletic. Quick. Strong defensively. Well coached.
What they aren’t is particularly big.
So their first-round matchup against Sumner – with six players at 6-foot-5 or better on the roster – looked something of a physical mismatch.
But the Pups got a boost from 6-foot-6 sophomore Jayden Stevens, in his first duty since aggravating a leg injury December, and senior Will Reeves, who played bigger than his 6-3 frame.
On a night when their leader struggled from the floor, the Pups needed all the help they could get.
In the end, though, it was a pair of guards that did the bulk of the damage for the Spartans.
Lamar Campbell scored 22 points, all-league guard Josh Lear added 18 – all on 3s – and the No. 9 Spartans eliminated the No. 8 Bullpups 60-59 in a State 4A first-round game at Tacoma Dome on Wednesday.
The Spartans (20-6) advanced to a quarterfinal against No. 2 Glacier Peak on Thursday at 9 p.m.
Sumner finished third in the South Puget Sound League behind Puyallup – which failed to qualify for state in the very difficult District 3/4 tournament – and No. 10 Olympia.
“I’m so proud of the seniors,” G-Prep Matty McIntyre said. “I mean, this hurts right now but I know when they look back on this they’re going to come back with great memories. They left it all out on the court and they represented their school tremendously.”
Stevens led the Bullpups (19-8) with 18 points – eight in the fourth quarter – and eight rebounds. Stevens sustained a leg injury last summer, played three games in December and was out until State.
“He just got cleared,” G-Prep coach Matty McIntyre said of Stevens. “He gave us really good minutes. He laid it out for his teammates. He wanted it so bad and I know it’s been very difficult for him not being able to help all season. So, yeah, he was fantastic tonight.”
Reeves, a senior who did not play on the Pups back-to-back state championship teams, added 14 points and all-Greater Spokane League first team selection Liam Lloyd finished with 12 points – despite going 4 of 12 from the field and 2 of 10 from beyond the arc.
As a team, Gonzaga Prep went 3 of 21 on 3-pointers.
“That’s the way basketball goes,” McIntryre said of Lloyd’s rough shooting night. “He’ll come back, he’ll have a lot more shots at the next level. He’s been so good for us all year.
“I mean, I love the kid. We wouldn’t be here without him – he’s led a brand new team all season. He’s shown incredible competitive greatness all season.”
Stevens’ tip-in put the Pups up 57-55 with 1:49 left and he popped a midrange jumper the next time down.
Hodges Flemming missed a long 3 and Lloyd grabbed the rebound, but he missed the front end of a 1-and-1. After a foul, Lear drilled a 3 from the corner to give Sumner the lead back with 18.7 seconds left.
Flemming held the ball for the last shot but got tied up and McIntyre called time with 1.9 seconds left. Lloyd’s off-balance heave under duress as the horn sounded was short.
“We had a play designed there,” McIntrye said of the tie-up with Flemming. “But we weren’t able to execute it. Good job by Sumner for getting that stop.”
When Flemming picked up his second foul 3 minutes into the game, Stevens came in for his first game action since scoring eight points against Lewis and Clark on Dec. 19. He scored on his first touch and added another bucket off an offensive rebound later in the frame. G-Prep led 16-14 after one, with Stevens, Lloyd and Reeves all contributing four points.
Lear popped back-to-back 3s with Lloyd in his face and Sumner went up 22-20. Lear added another from NBA range a minute later, but G-Prep answered by going inside for layups by Reeves and Aiden Von Buchwaldt.
Lloyd hit a long 3 with 20 seconds left and the Pups trailed 33-29 at intermission. Reeves led the Pups with eight points as Lloyd went 1 of 6 from beyond the arc.
Truman Young hit back-to-back 3s and the Spartans went up 43-35 with 3 minutes left in the third. But Flemming nailed a 3, Reeves scored in traffic again and made a pair from the line. Lloyd went the distance with a steal just before the horn and G-Prep trailed 47-44 after three.
Reeves made another bucket under the basket to draw Prep within one with 7:03 left, then Lear picked up his fourth foul. Lloyd tied it a minute later with his second 3 of the game.
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