Gonzaga Prep coach Matty McIntyre swears he didn’t get a frantic fourth-quarter phone call from a couple of his players’ parents — Gonzaga University coach Mark Few and Few’s assistant coach, Tommy Lloyd.
“No, no,” McIntyre laughed. “They are very, very far from anything like that.”
That late adjustment in Tacoma against host Wilson was all-natural.
Gonzaga Prep, the No. 1-ranked 4A team, used a 23-5 run from the end of the third quarter until midway through the fourth – capped by Liam Lloyd’s 3-pointer and fastbreak layup – to turn its deficit into a 63-51 victory over 3A No. 8 Wilson on Friday.
Gonzaga Prep’s Gonzaga University commit Anton Watson, a 6-foot-7 junior, scored a game-high 24 points – all coming in the paint – and Wilson’s Emmitt Matthews Jr., a 6-foot-7 senior and UConn signee, led the Rams with 18 points.
All those coaches kids and NCAA Division I-bound players on the court and all it really took to turn this game into the unbeaten Spokane team’s favor was some old-fashioned, physical defense.
“They locked up on the defensive side,” Wilson coach Dave Alwert said. “We tried to force offense. When we didn’t score at a good rate, we forced the action, our guards overdribbled and we got rushed.
“We got to learn to stay more poised and I think games like this will do that.”
First, it was Matthews catching fire.
It started with a fastbreak. He blew past one defender and was left one-one-one with the 6-foot-7 Watson left in his way. So he euro-stepped, was about to use a scoop shot with his right hand on the left side, before switching to his left hand at the last second to avoid getting his shot blocked and he finished for the score.
Then he stole one of Watson’s passes, jogged it up just past halfcourt and pulled up for a deep 3. Swish.
That momentum carried into the third quarter. First a Matthews tip dunk, then two more baskets and suddenly Wilson had a 37-31 lead with signs indicating that he was only about to help Wilson expand that lead further.
“Phenomenal talent,” McIntyre said. “He got hot and we had our hands full. When he gets in the open court, you can’t stop him. I don’t think anybody can stop him.”
So they made sure he didn’t get in transition anymore.
Those were Matthews’ final points of the game and with the way the rest of it went, it might as well have been Wilson’s last points. Because Gonzaga Prep took over, even without UW-bound 6-foot-5 football player Devin Culp, who has been out with a broken hand he suffered during football season.
The Bullpups turned Wilson’s 39-33 third-quarter lead into a 44-41 lead by the end of the period. And four minutes later, Gonzaga Prep had built a 56-44 lead on Watson’s and-one and a five-point run from Liam Lloyd, a sophomore who is the son of Gonzaga University assistant Tommy Lloyd. His 3-pointer had McIntyre shouting and pumping his fist from the Gonzaga Prep bench.
“Oh, it was a big shot,” McIntyre said. “A big shot for a brand new kid who is coming into his own on varsity. I thought he played tremendous tonight.”
Liam Lloyd finished with 15 points. Mark Few’s son, AJ Few, is a senior on the team, though he didn’t score
But, believe it or not, McIntyre says the longtime NCAA coaches haven’t spent the season pestering him about his own coaching philosophies.
“Not at all, not at all,” McIntyre laughed. “They have been great. I think they are just trying to be dads at this point. They want everybody pulling the rope in the same direction and I very much welcome their support and the team as a whole does.”
Not to mention McIntyre has a future Zag in Watson.
“The quietest scorer,” Matthews said. “He’s the silent assassin. I looked at the state sheet and I was like, ’24!?’
“I think he’s on the same level as (UW Mattise Thybule) was in high school,” Alwert said. “He was that same way – really long, a defender, great passer and he looks like he’s going to get even better.”
But take away that late Gonzaga Prep run, and Alwert said the first three-and-a-half quarters of this game were the best he’d seen his team play.
“Oh yeah, because we’re way faster,” Alwert said. “We have a really good chemistry this year. We just have to get all the pieces in the right spots. We’re really starting to understand our roles within the team and I just really enjoyed the fight. That was a good fight. They were physical and it was a great test for us.”
Daniels Santana added 15 points for Wilson and Jamaari Jones scored 15 for Gonzaga Prep.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
NO. 1 (4A) GONZAGA PREP
NO. 8 (3A) WILSON
Gonzaga Prep: Jacob Parola 3, Liam Lloyd 15, Sam Lockett 6, Jamaari Jones 15, Anton Watson 24
Wilson: Emmitt Matthews Jr. 18, Emani Mitchell 3, Daniel Santana 15, Nathaniel Stokes 5, Londrell Hamilton 3, Darrian Bates 4, Kiwanis Thomas III 3.