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Gonzaga Prep role players key 53-45 win over Skyview in 4A opener

TACOMA – A basketball team doesn’t advance to the state tournament semifinals because it rides the backs of the stars all season.

The first day of the State 4A girls tournament was a perfect example for Gonzaga Prep.

The statistical line for role players Lauren Weir, Kayla Leland, Wendy Gregory and Shafalika Byrd wasn’t eye popping, but their collective contribution Thursday morning was key to the Bullpups’ 53-45 win over the Skyview Storm at the Tacoma Dome.

Next up for Gonzaga Prep (23-1) is a matchup between the top two teams in the state. The Bullpups face Lynnwood (24-1) this afternoon at 3:45 with the winner going to the title game.

Lynnwood opened with a 71-44 win over Kentwood.

Moses Lake (20-4) topped 2013 state runner-up Arlington 46-28. The Chiefs play Mt. Rainier (24-3) in the semifinals tonight at 5:30.

Gonzaga Prep 53, Skyview 45: The Bullpups overcame a sluggish start to build a comfortable 14-point margin midway through the fourth quarter.

But the Storm fought back within 48-42 with 2:53 remaining and G-Prep faced with trying to get a shot off with 1 second left on the shot clock under its own basket.

That’s when Hannah Caudill found Laura Stockton on one of the Bullpups’ favorite entry plays, and Stockton’s basket followed by a 3-pointer from Caudill extended the lead to 53-42 with 1:22 to go.

It was obvious from the get go that the Bullpups were out of sync. They finished with 16 turnovers, double their average.

“I think we were feeling the Dome a little bit,” said Stockton, who had 12 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals. “We were a little too excited, a little nervous. Once we got going we were fine.”

The Bullpups talked about it at halftime.

“We just wanted to come out in the second half strong,” Stockton said. “We didn’t want to lose in the first game.”

Caudill finished with 15 points and Otiona Gildon had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

“The first thing out of my mouth (in the locker room) was when you get to this point you’ve got to celebrate,” G-Prep coach Mike Arte said. “Even though I don’t think we played at our best, we defended really well. We didn’t shoot very well but they found a way to get through it. At this stage of the season that’s the most important thing – find a way to survive and move to the next game. They showed a lot of grit and character in doing that.”

Moses Lake 46, Arlington 28: The Chiefs held the Eagles scoreless for 8 ½ minutes to secure the win.

Emily Olson led Moses Lake with 17 points and nine rebounds. Jessie Loera had seven assists, three steals and two blocked shots.