Davis High’s boys basketball team was too preoccupied with a wild celebration to notice the Bellarmine Prep Lions trudging off the Tacoma Dome court.
The top-ranked Pirates didn’t need to see jerseys being pulled over heads, hiding the painful emotions of Bellarmine Prep’s 52-46 overtime loss in the Class 4A boys basketball state semifinals Friday to know what the Lions were feeling.
Davis suffered the same gut-wrenching disappointment a year ago. The Pirates reached the semifinals and lost a close game to Curtis.
A year later, an experienced Pirates team made up largely of the same personnel will play in the state finals for the first time since 1965. Davis (22-2) will take on Spokane Central Valley (22-3) at 3 p.m. today.
“From the regional and no state berth, to a state berth and no wins, then a state berth and placing and now, of course, this is the next step,” Davis coach Eli Juarez said, recalling the past four seasons. “For a growing process, this is fantastic.”
If Bellarmine Prep can take anything out of its semifinal loss, the underclassmen-heavy Lions can look at Davis as proof that the future can be bright.
Coming to that realization might take time. Especially after Bellarmine Prep came so close to reaching the title game for the first time since 1980 – the Lions led throughout the final three quarters.
“They’re a good team,” Bellarmine Prep coach Bernie Salazar said, “and they played better down the stretch than we did.”
Davis held the Lions without a field goal for the final 5 minutes, 22 seconds of the fourth quarter. After guard Isaiah Flynn hit a free throw for Bellarmine Prep with 10.4 seconds left, putting the Lions ahead 41-39, the Pirates raced down the court.
Forward Devonte Luckett went up for a shot and was fouled with 1.2 seconds left. The three-year starter was 3-for-8 on free throws to that point in the game, but he drilled both and sent the contest into overtime.
“He just wants to win,” Juarez said.
Davis took control – and its first lead since the first quarter – in overtime.
After Flynn found forward Lucas Meikle for a layin that gave Bellarmine Prep a 44-43 lead with two minutes to play, the Pirates made a series of game-changing plays.
Luckett, who scored a team-high 19 points, made a jumper and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but teammate Cooper Kupp grabbed the rebound. Davis ran the shot clock down to one second before taking its next shot, and Luckett pulled down the offensive rebound.
He was fouled, hit both free throws and the Pirates had a 47-44 lead with 48 seconds left.
“Our guys were really aware that every play in a state playoff is important,” Juarez said. “Every play, you just never know if it will be the end one.”
Bellarmine Prep misfired on the ensuing possession. With 25 seconds to play the Lions were forced to foul and the Pirates made enough to win.
The Lions (24-4) will play Union (19-8) in the third-/fifth-place game at 1 p.m. today.
Meikle scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and junior Sefo Liufau added 12 points and eight rebounds. Guard David Smith chipped in 10 points.
The Narrows League 4A champions won’t play for the state championship, but that won’t change how Salazar regards his team.
“I’m extremely proud of them,” Salazar said. “We lost a hard-fought game. They made a few more plays down the stretch than we did.”