Matty McIntyre, coach of defending State 4A champion Gonzaga Prep, said all that needed to be said.
“That kid is a warrior. A warrior. And he willed us to the state tournament.”
Liam Lloyd scored 30 points, hitting 9 of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter, and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Bullpups over Chiawana 61-59 in the District 8 4A second-place game at the Toyota Center in Kennewick on Saturday.
“I wanted to win it really bad,” Lloyd said. “I mean, you know, this was a new group and our goal was always to get to state the whole year. And I mean it’s just a big step for us, We’re excited and we’re going to go focus on the next one.”
Hodges Flemming added 11 points and Aiden Von Buchwaldt had 10 for G-Prep.
Chiawana was led by Cooper DeWitt with 26 points, and Jayden Martinez added 12.
The 5:15 p.m. start time came quick for the Bullpups (18-6), who fell to Central Valley in the district title game Friday night – which ended just before 11 p.m.
“The kids showed some real determination, some real resiliency,” McIntyre said. “After a tough loss last night and getting in bed after midnight – I mean that’s a quick turnaround. What the kids showed today was true grit and true character and I’m so proud of them.”
It got off to a quick start, with Chiawana (22-3) hitting three straight 3s to open the game. Gonzaga Prep countered with Flemming driving the lane for a pair of buckets and Lloyd hit one from way downtown.
There was a scary moment near the end of the quarter, as Chiawana’s all-league guard Kobe Young, who missed much of the season with a left leg injury, went down hard and had to be helped off the court, with no weight on his right leg. He did not return.
Martinez had eight points in the first and Chiawana led 17-14.
DeWitt and Landon Cantu popped 3s early in the second as the Riverhawks went on an 11-3 run.
Lloyd buried three straight free throws then drove the lane for a floater, and Joe Few’s short jumper made it a four-point game at intermission at 30-26.
Few hit a 3 on G-Prep’s first possession of the second half, and Flemming’s floater a minute later gave the Pups their first lead. Lloyd buried a 3 and G-Prep led 34-30.
“You have to create what the game flow allows,” McIntyre said. “You can’t be discouraged when something doesn’t go your way, whether it’s a call or certain play, and I thought that’s where I’m so proud of the kids is they were able to overcome an early deficit and the ups and downs of the game.”
Lloyd and DeWitt traded 3s later in the quarter and Von Buchwaldt’s 3 late in the frame – one of six in the frame from the Pups – helped G-Prep lead 46-40 entering the fourth.
Martinez nailed a 3, then DeWitt completed a three-point play and Chiawana drew even at 46.
Martinez picked up his fifth foul defending Lloyd in the backcourt with 3:16 left. Lloyd made 1 of 2 for a 53-51 lead.
Lloyd kept driving the lane – and kept getting fouled. He hit a pair with 1:24 to make it a four-point game.
DeWitt missed a contested 3 with 50 seconds left and Lloyd made two more free throws. He hit 9 of 12 in the fourth to help the Pups seal it.