TACOMA — This is not a misprint.
Eastside Catholic, the top-ranked Class 3A high-school boys team in the state, lost by 25.
And it didn’t feel that close.
No. 4 Garfield, the only in-state team to beat the Crusaders, did it for a third time Friday, in a dominating 71-46 victory in the Class 3A state boys basketball semifinals at the Tacoma Dome.
The Bulldogs can claim their second title in three years with a win Saturday night over defending champion O’Dea, which was also dominant in a 73-53 win over Rainier Beach.
O’Dea (23-5) defeated Garfield (24-4) twice this season, 76-56 and 64-60.
But Garfield looked like it could beat anyone Friday.
“We knew if we played well, we would give ourselves a chance to win,” Garfield coach Brandon Roy said. “It feels good to beat a good team like that by so much. But I wouldn’t say I was surprised by how much we won by. … That was our most complete game.”
The winning margin didn’t surprise Garfield, but it shocked just about everyone else.
Eastside Catholic (24-4) was 21-0 against in-state teams other than Garfield and had beaten top teams from other states, too. But try as they might, the Crusaders never solved Garfield.
Garfield did that one better. And how.
He has a chance for another title after a game in which Garfield shot 56 percent (28 of 50) and Eastside Catholic shot 29 percent (19 of 66). The Crusaders were 3 of 14 from the foul line.
Sophomore guard Koren Johnson had 23 points to lead the Bulldogs. He said the key to winning was stopping Nolan Hickman, who had 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting.
“It’s always easy (against Eastside Catholic),” Johnson said. “All we’ve got to do is stop one guy.”
It wasn’t easy the first few minutes as Eastside Catholic took a 10-4 lead. But after that it was all Bulldogs. They went on a 10-0 run and led by at many as 15 points in the first half before taking a 33-20 lead at halftime.
The first-half shooting stats told the story. Garfield shot 62 percent in the first half (13 of 21). Eastside Catholic shot 32 percent (9 of 28).
Garfield scored the first seven points of the third quarter and the lead was still at 20 (50-30) heading to the final quarter. Indicative of the kind of night it was for Eastside Catholic, it missed six straight free throws late in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to take a 59-30 lead and the only remaining question was margin of victory.
Tari Eason, a 6-foot-8 four-star prospect who can score inside and outside for Garfield, added 16 points.
“I’m not surprised at all,” the Cincinnati commit said of the easy win. “Coach told us if we played hard and we played together that we would get the win. And that’s exactly what we did.”
O’Dea rolls over Rainier Beach, 73-53
The Irish will also come into the title game off a dominating performance, using an 11-0 run to take a 20-10 lead, then using a 14-0 run to go up 38-16 late in the second quarter.
Like the game before it, the outcome was pretty much decided by halftime.
O’Dea star Paolo Banchero, who was scoreless in the first half of a 65-55 overtime win over Seattle Prep on Thursday, started Friday like he ended against Seattle Prep, when he had 25 points in the second half and overtime.
He had 13 of his 19 points and nine of his 15 rebounds in the first half against Rainier Beach. He also had the best assist of the game when he dribbled full court before whipping a behind-the-back pass to John Chrisofilis, who buried a three-pointer during the 14-0 second-quarter run.
“Yesterday I started off slow and I didn’t want to do it again, so I made it a goal of mine to get started early,” said Banchero, the 6-10 junior who is one of the top players in the nation in the 2021 class.
Like Garfield, O’Dea led by as many as 29 points (49-20). It was similar to the teams’ previous meeting, when the Irish won 88-60.
Rainier Beach (19-10) had to rally in a regional game to make it to the Tacoma Dome, then rallied from a double-digit, second-half deficit against Kamiakin to reach the semis. But the Vikings couldn’t claw back against O’Dea.
The task Saturday figures to be tougher for the Irish. But the defending champs seem ready for it.
“They are playing well right now, coming off two blowouts win and they just blew out a great Eastside Catholic team,” Banchero said of Garfield. “We’re going to have bring our best tomorrow. But we’re playing well and we’re confident going into this game tomorrow.”