TACOMA – A team’s length can manifest its effectiveness in many ways, not just turnovers.
That was the case Thursday when athletic and long Todd Beamer rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit to knock off Gonzaga Prep 57-49 in a State 4A boys basketball tournament opener at the Tacoma Dome.
The Bullpups (21-5) still believe they can make it to Saturday – even if it won’t be the trophy game for which they were hoping to qualify. G-Prep faces Wenatchee (16-9) this afternoon at 2.
The Titans (22-4) switched to a combination of full-court pressure, traps and a 1-3-1 zone in the second half.
More than anything, Beamer’s long arms altered many G-Prep shots or covered up passing lanes.
The Bullpups had a nice start.
When Sam Dowd hit a driving basket with 30 seconds to go in the first quarter, G-Prep had its first lead at 12-10.
The Titans wouldn’t take the lead again until the 3:28 mark of the third period.
It was apparent at the start of the second half that Beamer was determined to change the pace of the game, and in so doing take the Bullpups out of what they love to do the most: Play tenacious half-court man-to-man defense.
After the Titans caught G-Prep, it seemed the Bullpups had weathered the worst of it. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Frankie Hoerner to close out the third gave G-Prep a 38-35 lead going into the fourth.
When Beamer took the lead at 44-42 on a 3-pointer with 3:39 remaining, it was the last lead change.
“Defensively, I thought we were phenomenal in the first half,” G-Prep coach Matty McIntyre said. “We were executing our defensive plan to perfection, and our offense was clicking and we were attacking.”
That disappeared in the final two quarters.
“In the second half they went to the zone and that’s a long, athletic team,” McIntyre said. “The bottom line is this, we just didn’t make enough shots.”
G-Prep made 3 of 13 attempts from the field in the final quarter. Two of the makes came within eight seconds of each other in the final minute by Brendan McClary, including a 3-pointer that pulled the Bullpups within 52-49 with 22 seconds to go.
But the Titans made 5 of 6 free-throw attempts in the final 20 seconds to stave off G-Prep.
“I look at those 13 shots (in the fourth) and I feel a lot of them were open,” McIntyre said. “No excuses we just didn’t shoot the ball well enough to win.”
McIntyre said his biggest fears were rebounding and turnovers. G-Prep committed eight fewer turnovers than Beamer and the Titans outrebounded the Bullpups 36-30.
“We did a great job in those two areas,” McIntyre said. “Because of their length they got a lot of tip outs and leak outs, and because of that we couldn’t get into our half-court defense.”
The 5-foot-6 Dowd had a difficult time against Beamer’s length, making just 4 of 16 shots. He and Alexander had 12 points each.
While disappointed with the loss, McIntyre wasn’t displeased with the effort.
“Overall, I thought we played pretty dang well for 32 minutes,” McIntyre said.
Dowd said the mood was good inside the locker room. He said the Bullpups would regroup and be ready to play today.
“Going into the game people didn’t think we had a chance and we made a statement right away,” Dowd said. “All the seniors can do is keep our heads up and keep fighting.”