The Wilson boys basketball team is loaded with sophomores and was making its second state appearance since 2000. Perennial state powerhouse O’Dea’s history includes eight state championship appearances.
The Rams didn’t seem to care. With clutch plays in the final minutes, Wilson proved with a 60-57 win that it belongs.
“It’s our time,” said Wilson sophomore forward Alphonso Anderson. He led the Rams with 21 points, nine rebounds. “Now we are in the final four.”
Wilson wasn’t the stereotypical wide-eyed inexperienced team. Not even when it found itself down 46-40 after back-to-back O’Dea 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Instead, the Rams responded with a 10-1 run, getting points from all its hyped youth: Anderson, Montre Brown-Lofton, David Jenkins, Ivy Smith Jr. and then a 3-pointer from Jamal Welch – the lone starting senior.
The Rams never relinquished the lead after that.
“They are young, but they are poised,” said Wilson coach Dave Alwert. “They stuck to the game plan and executed when it counted.”
Wilson will face No. 6 Eastside Catholic in the semifinals at 3:45 p.m. Friday.
O’Dea cut the lead to 56-55 in the final minute when Pacific-bound Jacob Lampkin scored underneath. He led the Irish with 17 points and 13 rebounds – 10 of them on the offensive end.
But Wilson provided the dagger the next possession. Anderson fed Jenkins for a reverse layup that pushed the lead back to three points with 25 seconds left. O’Dea’s Jamar Kemp, son of former Seattle Sonic Shawn Kemp, answered with a basket that left 3.3 seconds left.
Ivy Smith Jr., who scored 16 points to go with eight assists, hit both free throws on the other end and O’Dea’s fullcourt prayer was off the mark, sending Wilson to the semifinals.
“(Our) heart and sole was set on playing for a state championship and it was gashed,” said O’Dea coach Al Hairston. “(Wilson) made plays down the stretch and we didn’t. That was the difference in the game.”
Wilson did so despite being gouged on the glass. O’Dea won the rebound battle 42-26, with both Lampkin and Kemp finishing with at least 10. Jamie Orme had 12 points and eight rebounds.
“They are big and strong and our kids did a really good job of just trying to keep them off the glass,” Alwert said. “We played like a bunch of mighty mice out there today.”
Wilson made up for it by shutting O’Dea down from the 3-point line. The Irish were 0 of 8 from beyond the arc in the first half and didn’t connect until Barnard’s three 3-pointers to give them the six-point lead in the fourth.
“They did a good job of pressuring all the shots,” Hairston said.
Wilson’s last state victory game in 2010 when it went 2-2. Now it’s one game away from playing for a state title. It last did so in 1997 before losing to Garfield.
“This is my first win here at the Dome and it feels great,” Anderson said. “We just have to take these one game at a time.”