The Wilson High School boys basketball team can take three positives out its 88-54 loss to No. 1-ranked Garfield on Saturday at Bellevue College.
1: If it plays like it did in the first half, when it trailed 30-23, it can play with the best teams in the state.
2: The season isn’t over. Wilson heads to the Tacoma Dome for the second consecutive season with a 2 p.m. loser-out game against Prairie on Wednesday, with the winner advancing to play Rainier Beach in the state quarterfinals.
3: Maybe the biggest of all – Emmitt Matthews Jr. is still playing.
The 6-foot-7 senior and UConn signee got a second opinion on what he was originally told last week was a broken right hand suffered in Wilson’s district loss to Prairie. Matthews thought his season and Wilson career was over.
But then he and his parents went to the UW Medical Center in Seattle later in the week and Matthews was cleared to play. He didn’t even need a cast.
He still was limited in Saturday’s game, scoring nine points while wearing a brace around his wrist (he’s left-handed). And Matthews was subbed out with just over seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when Wilson’s deficit reached 74-45 and point guard Londrell Hamilton fouled out.
“I really thought I was never going to wear this jersey again,” Matthews said. “But I can’t leave my teammates out there. I just really wanted to get out there and play with my boys, and when they told me I wouldn’t need a cast, I was playing.”
Matthews said he is still going to take it day by day.
But he did impress a three-time NBA All-Star, who probably would have been an All-Star many more times if not for career-ending injuries.
“We never counted him out in our scouting,” Garfield coach Brandon Roy said. “We just focused as if he was going to play.
“But to have that type of injury and still go out and play – I thought that was very tough of him. And he did a really good job, too. That was a hell of an effort by him.”
But this Garfield team — it’s loaded.
And Wilson’s problem was it let Garfield turn the second half into an AAU game.
Garfield’s Pierre Crockrell scored 12 of his 19 points in the second half, so did Marjon Beauchamp. PJ Fuller scored all eight of his points in the second half, and 6-foot-9 J’Raan Brooks finished with 14 points.
“We recuperated a little bit, got some energy at halftime and came out and gave it all we got,” Brooks said. “We just rotated better in the second half and we had to up our defensive game to get some fastbreaks.
Wilson turned it over seven times in the third quarter, including a stretch of four turnovers in five possessions as Garfield pushed its lead from 42-35 after Matthews’ putback to 49-35 after Fuller’s steal and fastbreak dunk.
“Defensively we could be or are one of the best teams in the state,” Brooks said. “As long as we bring the effort. Because we can always produce on the offensive end.”
Nate Stokes led Wilson with 14 points, hitting a 3-pointer to open the second half that cut Garfield’s lead to 30-26.
But this is Wilson’s second loss in the past three seasons against Garfield in the regional round of state. Only this time, thanks to the WIAA’s new state format, it doesn’t come in a loser-out game.
“It was just nerves,” Wilson coach Dave Alwert said. “It’s like playing Lincoln, but moreso – there’s like a fear factor. They have some really good athletes who can get up and down, and if you let them get out in transition they are really good. If you get them in the half-court and limit your turnovers and keep them in the 50s, you can be in those games.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
NO. 10 WILSON
NO. 1 GARFIELD
Wilson: Damani Green 6, Emmitt Matthews 9, Emani Mitchell 6, Daniel Santana 6, Nate Stokes 14, Londrell Hamilton 2, Darrian Bates 3, Drew Bonds 2, Adam Maxon 4, JT Holmes 2.
Garfield: Jamon Kemp 5, Joe Saterfield 2, Edward Turner 10, PJ Fuller 8, Tari Eason 4, Pierre Crockrell 19, Jorell Saterfield 4, Marjon Beauchamp 19, Noah Neubauer 3, J’Raan Brooks 14.