TACOMA – Two teams with similar nicknames vied for Top Dog when the Bullpups from Gonzaga Prep and Bulldogs from Garfield squared off Thursday night in the State 4A boys basketball quarterfinals.
They also employed similarly patient offensive styles and in-your-grill defense. Shots were hard to come by and few were uncontested. Who would come through in the overtime test of wills?
For one, Tony Wroten, Garfield’s nationally acclaimed sophomore.
Wroten scored a game-high 23 points, two more than G-Prep’s Ryan Nicholas, in the Bulldogs’ 48-44 overtime triumph.
And it was a 3-pointer Wroten buried with 3 minutes, 36 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game that altered the course. Until then, G-Prep had led for most of the second half.
Wroten scored again for a 40-36 lead after G-Prep turned the ball over on successive possessions,
But the Bullpups rallied back in the final 1:23 with points by Nicholas to forge a tie and send the contest into an extra frame.
DeAndre Taylor scored his first basket of the OT for the initial lead, but G-Prep’s Travis Long, who had a strong game on the boards, rebounded a miss for a tie.
Wroten took it upon himself to score and Taylor added a pair of free throws with 45 seconds left in overtime. One more rebound basket by Long, with 7 seconds left, gave G-Prep life, but the Bulldogs added two more points at the line to end it.
“I thought they executed good patience, better than they had on film I watched,” G-Prep coach Mike Haugen said of Garfield. “They had been quick putting up shots.”
Haugen said G-Prep was unable to break down and make Garfield pay for the extended defensive pressure thrown against his team.
Instead, Garfield kept the Bullpups’ perimeter game at bay and made it difficult to get the ball into the post. At that, Nicholas and Long accounted for 34 of G-Prep’s 44 points.
Nicholas scored the Bullpups’ first nine points and Wroten had six of Garfield’s eight in a first quarter that wound up tied at 11.
The Bulldogs took a four-point lead in the second quarter, but guards Sean Fischer and David Stockton scored for a 23-21 G-Prep halftime lead.
G-Prep’s lead was as many as six points in the third quarter before Glenn Brooke hit a 3-pointer and Wroten added three more points to make it 30-all.
Nicholas scored twice to make it 36-33 before Wroten scored from outside the only time all night.
“When Wroten hit that 3, it was huge,” Haugen said.
From there, it became a matter of which defense would hold up. Garfield’s did.
“We had more shots checked than we have all year,” Haugen said of the draining contest. “The only other thing that comes to mind is that it was a great ballgame.”
The loss drops G-Prep into the consolation round at 3:30 p.m. today against Curtis. Garfield plays Foss in the 8:30 p.m. semifinal.