Carter did most of his damage in the second half with 23 points after finding holes in the Spartans’ zone defense.
TACOMA — Jason Kerr is familiar with success at the Tacoma Dome, and he wasted no time finding it with his new team.
The first-year O’Dea coach guided his alma mater to a 72-65 Class 3A quarterfinal win over Stanwood on Thursday behind 31 points from Michael Carter.
Kerr won three titles with Franklin.
“We knew that when you’re going against Zach (Ward, the Stanwood coach), don’t look at the record, they’re going to be prepared and they’re going to give you a heck of a game,” Kerr said.
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“As usual, they did.”
O’Dea plays Kennedy Catholic in the semifinals Friday at 3:45 p.m. Kennedy upset Bellevue in its opener, 77-68.
The Irish (21-7) jumped in front by 15 points early in the fourth and were poised for the easy first-round win at the Tacoma Dome, but Stanwood took advantage of five O’Dea turnovers in the final quarter to chip away at the deficit.
The Spartans (19-7) were as close as 68-65 with 41 seconds remaining after a Cameron Plautz three-pointer, but Carter answered with a pair of free throws.
Stanwood came away empty on its next possession, despite two attempts, and Carter put it out of reach with another two from the line.
Carter did most of his damage in the second half with 23 points after finding holes in the Spartans’ zone defense. He finished 10 of 16 from the field and 9 of 10 from the free-throw line.
“I just started to see the open gaps more,” said Carter.
“I started to take my time and let the ball move, and when I got it I knew there was a gap open.”
Quin Barnard added 20 points for the Irish, who will face Kennedy Catholic in a semifinal game Friday at 3:45 p.m.
AJ Martinka led Stanwood with 15 points and Chase Strieby added 13.
It was a tough day for the Spartans on offense, though, as they shot 35.9 percent and failed on several easy looks in the lane.
“I don’t think they had incredible length that caused us issues, we just didn’t finish,” Ward said.
“I told those guys, we’ve done such a good job finishing, our strength of our team has been our post play the last three weeks leading this team. We just had a tough day.”
O’Dea returns to the semifinals for the first time since the 2007 season, the year the Fighting Irish beat Bainbridge for the Class 3A title.
Kerr won state titles at Franklin in 2003, 2006 and 2009. He stepped down at the conclusion of the 2012-13 campaign with a 291-94 record.