One thing's for certain about Gonzaga Prep point guard Sam Dowd: He plays at a different level than just about everyone else.
When the 5-foot-7 senior is doing his thing – whether it's bringing the ball up the floor at a dead run, or sneaking behind a player on defense to strip the ball – he’s doing it about 2 1/2 feet off the floor.
"He's something special," said Bullpups coach Matty McIntyre after Dowd skewered the Wenatchee Panthers with 28 points and a handful of steals in a 65-51 consolation victory Friday at the 4A boys state tournament. "Sometimes his size works to his advantage."
It sure did against Wenatchee, which held an overall height advantage over Gonzaga Prep – no Bullpups player was taller than 6-3.
With Dowd buzzing in and around players on both ends of the court, Gonzaga Prep built a 29-20 lead with 3:35 left in the second quarter before settling for a 34-32 halftime lead. Dowd led the way with 13 first-half points and three steals.
"(Dowd) is the kind of player who has to play on instincts," McIntyre said. "He has a great amount of room to roam for us. It's one of his best assets."
The Panthers used their superior size to keep the game tight in the second half, pounding the ball in to post Gavin Long, who led the way with 17 points and seven rebounds, and wing Grady Miller, who added 16 points and six rebounds.
Wenatchee trailed just 46-41 heading into the fourth quarter and 51-45 with 6:39 to play, when wing Dillon Sugg – who scored 12 points – picked up his fifth foul and was forced to the bench. More important, it put the Bullpups in the bonus and they were able to hold off Wenatchee at the free throw line.
Dowd went 10 of 18 from the field (55 percent) and did not have a turnover. Senior forward Reed Hopkins added 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting as Gonzaga Prep now meets Jackson at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the game for fourth and sixth place.
"These loser-out game are character games, about continuing your season," McIntyre said. "I'm really pleased how our guys responded."