TACOMA — It doesn’t get easier for Al Hairston to talk to his team after a loss in the state tournament. Not even after all these years of coaching.
“Especially for the seniors,” said the O’Dea coach after a tough 60-57 opening-round loss to Wilson Thursday at the Tacoma Dome. “Their heart and soul was set on playing for a state championship, and it was dashed.”
To make things tougher, the No. 10 Irish led by seven early in the fourth quarter. No. 5 Wilson (23-3) responded, though, going on a 9-0 run to take a 48-46 lead with 4:45 left. Jamal Welch capped the run with a three-pointer.
O’Dea (17-11), which will play in the consolation bracket at 9 a.m. Friday against University, had plenty of chances down the stretch but was unable to stop the Rams, who scored on six of their last seven possessions.
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“They made plays down the stretch and we didn’t,” Hairston said. “That’s the difference in the game.”
Wilson looked like it might blow the game open in the first quarter, taking a 17-9 lead six minutes into the contest. The Rams had easy looks on offense, scoring seven of their eight first-quarter buckets on layups.
It didn’t help the Irish that foul trouble plagued them. Jacob Lampkin, Jamar Kemp and Tyler Kidd each picked up two fouls in the first 10 minutes. Lampkin, O’Dea’s leading scorer, was whistled for his third foul midway through the second quarter.
Despite playing in foul trouble, Lampkin carried the Irish back into the contest. The senior finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds in just 21 minutes.
“He’s a senior, he’s been around for a long time,” Hairston said. “He realized what was on the line.”
Alphonso Anderson had 21 points and nine rebounds for Wilson, which will play in the semifinals against Eastside Catholic at 3:45 p.m. Friday.
East. Catholic 53, University 39
The nerves got to Eastside Catholic. Coach Bill Liley didn’t hesitate to admit it.
It showed, too, in the Crusaders’ first state-tournament appearance since 1999, although No. 3 Eastside Catholic eventually pulled away for a 53-39 win over University to reach the semifinals for the first time in school history.
“I’ll tell you what, those guys are tough, mentally and physically,” Liley said. “I think tomorrow we’ll be a heck of a lot better than we were today. We just had to get through today. We knew it was going to be like this today.”
The Crusaders (22-5) didn’t shoot the ball terribly (44 percent) and hit 5 of 9 from beyond the arc, but they stumbled out of the gate with seven first-half turnovers and struggled to put the game away, despite several opportunities.
University (16-10) got within 35-30 with just more than a minute left in the third quarter, but Nathan Christie hit a three-pointer and the Titans wouldn’t get that close again.
“The senior captain just came right down and hit a three, and we were back up eight,” Liley said.
Eastside Catholic led by as much as 13 early in the third quarter, but University chipped away multiple times. The Titans’ undoing was themselves, though, as they went almost four minutes in the final quarter without scoring.
The Crusaders had jumped out to an 8-0 lead, but University stormed back to tie the score 11. Eastside Catholic again threatened to pull away, responding with a 14-2 run to take a 25-13 advantage.
Mandrell Worthy scored 24 points for Eastside Catholic.