TACOMA — The last time Issaquah faced Garfield, the Eagles were run over by unrelenting defensive pressure. Garfield won that matchup, the KingCo championship game, by 18 points, a result much closer than what actually transpired.
Issaquah will get another chance at the Bulldogs in the 4A state tournament semifinals after beating Jackson, 56-44, in Friday’s quarterfinal matchup at the Tacoma Dome.
“I think the KingCo championship game, honestly, against Garfield, prepared us mentally,” Issaquah coach Jason Griffith said. “The kids were ready.”
The difference came early, as No. 10 Issaquah (19-6) ended the first quarter on a 12-0 run to push its advantage to 22-12. The teams played nearly even basketball the rest of the way as Jackson wasn’t able to close the deficit to less than six.
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No. 2 Jackson (23-2), the state runner-up a year ago, was one of the best teams in 4A all season, sitting at No. 1 in the polls for five straight weeks. The Timberwolves, who returned all major contributors, were considered favorites by many to win the title heading into the tournament.
But Jackson was unable to overcome the early deficit.
“We kind of lost control of the game really in the first quarter and never really had it,” Jackson coach Steve Johnson said. “We never really had control of the game. We were always running uphill.”
Issaquah, per usual, had a balanced offensive attack, with Ty Gibson’s 18 points and 10 rebounds leading the way. Jason Todd scored 17 points for Jackson, while Dan Kingma added 15.
The Eagles handed Garfield its only loss of the season on Feb. 1. A win over the Bulldogs on Friday would give Issaquah a chance to win its first state title.
“It ended up being a blessing in disguise,” said Griffith of the last time the teams met.
Garfield 63, Kentridge 41
Garfield prides itself on relentless defense. Kentridge found out just how suffocating the pressure can be on Thursday.
The No. 1 Bulldogs (25-1) allowed just two points — and no field goals — in the second quarter en route to a dominating win in the 4A state tournament quarterfinals.
No. 4 Kentridge (25-2), which is led by dynamic scorer Jawan Stepney, simply could not get good offensive looks against Garfield’s trademark man-to-man pressure defense. That is when the Chargers even got a shot off. Kentridge turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, leading directly to 14 Garfield points.
“We’re quick,” Garfield coach Ed Haskins said. “We’re quick and we have good hands. That makes a big difference defensively. I’ll take speed over size any day of the week.”
Kentridge’s Danny Torlai scored a bucket with 3:30 left in the first quarter to bring the Chargers within one, 11-10. From there, it took Kentridge more than 13 minutes to hit another field goal — it made two free throws during that span. Stepney, who finished with 13 points, finally broke the skid with layup with about six minutes left in the third quarter. By that time, Garfield comfortably led 38-15.
Garfield had a scare in the third quarter when Brayon Blake was struck in the forehead. The Bulldogs’ second-leading scorer stayed on the ground for a couple minutes before needing assistance off the court. Blake did not return and underwent concussion tests, which he passed. He is expected to play Friday.
Tramaine Isabell scored 21 points for Garfield, while Blake snagged 10 rebounds before he was forced from the game.
Garfield will play Issaquah in the semifinals Friday at 7:15 pm.
“I feel like if we play our best and whoever else plays their best,” Haskins said, “I feel like we have a good shot to win.”
Beamer 57, Gonzaga Prep 49
Not much went right for Beamer in the first half, particularly in the second quarter. The Titans scored just four points in the second quarter and, as a result, trailed by 12 at halftime.
But in the second half — and particularly in the fourth quarter — Beamer made all the plays that counted. After Gonzaga Prep took a 42-41 lead midway through the fourth quarter, Beamer outscored Gonzaga Prep 16-7 in the final four minutes.
Bogdon Bliznyuk’s three-pointer with 3:42 left gave Beamer a 44-42 lead, and the Titans would never trail again.
Bliznyuk’s two free throws with 41 seconds left gave Beamer a commanding eight-point lead, but Gonzaga Prep rallied to cut it to three with 22 seconds left. But Beamer hit 5 of 6 free throws from there to close out the win.
Quadir Williams led Beamer with 18 points, including 12 in the second half. Sam Dowd and Brendan McClary each scored 12 points for Gonzaga Prep.
Beamer (22-4) will play Richland in Friday’s 4A state semifinals at 9 p.m. Gonzaga Prep (19-4) will play Wenatchee at 2 p.m.
Richland 78, Wenatchee 49
Richland struggled to shoot the ball well in its quarterfinal matchup with Wenatchee. Luckily for the Bombers, one Bomber — Jacob DeVries — seemingly couldn’t miss.
DeVries matched Wenatchee’s first-half total with 22 points en route to a game-high 33 points. He also added six rebounds, five steals and three assists.
Wenatchee (16-9) kept the score close early, tying it at 10 right before the end of the first quarter. Following the lead of DeVries, Richland (25-0) quickly pulled away.
Staff writer Jayson Jenks contributed to this report.