The Wilson Rams knew they had their hands full with Eastside Catholic stars Matisse Thybulle and Mandrell Worthy, but it was a little-used freshman who did them in.
Ninth-grader Brock MacKenzie grabbed Thybulle’s missed 3-pointer, laid it in and was fouled in the act in a crucial play as Eastside Catholic scored a come-from-behind 53-51 win over Wilson on Saturday night at Mount Tahoma High School in a Class 3A state regional game.
Eastside Catholic (23-6) returns to the 3A quarterfinals at the Tacoma Dome, where the Crusaders finished second a year ago.
Wilson’s season ended — although the momentum favored the Rams, prior to MacKenzie’s big play.
Playing with ferocious energy on the offensive glass, Wilson had putbacks by Montre Lofton-Brown and David Jenkins to take a 48-43 lead with 2 minutes, 30 seconds to play.
Then Thybulle missed his three-pointer, but MacKenzie was able to clear the glass, make the putback, draw a foul, and hit a free throw making it 48-46.
“The kid that hurt us was little number 11 (MacKenzie) on that offensive rebound putback,” Wilson coach Dave Alwert said. “That was huge. We had a run — we had two buckets in a row, and that could have been a stop.”
Jenkins, a junior guard, hit a floater to give Wilson a 50-46 lead — part of a team-leading 24-point night for Jenkins.
But the University of Washington bound Thybulle scored in the lane, and Montana State commit Worthy scored the final three points as Eastside took the lead.
Worthy finished with 20 points, and Thybulle added 19.
Wilson (20-5) had trouble solving the Crusaders match-up zone in the first half. Eastside Catholic forced 12 first-half turnovers and took a 23-16 lead into intermission.
“Our kids kind of went brain-dead,” Alwert said. “We were supposed to be skipping the ball, but we went to bounce passes on the perimeter and kind of slowed ourselves down.”
Rams senior Elijah Cotton-Welch helped Wilson come back in the second half, draining four 3-pointers and finishing with 12 points.
Fellow senior Keun Palu-Thompson pulled down 13 rebounds while scoring five points.
Free throws were a factor for Wilson. The Rams were 2-for-10 from the stripe, compared to Eastside Catholic’s 8-for-14.