Future Gonzaga player Anton Watson scored 33 points as the Bullpups beat the Wildcats 69-43.
TACOMA — Jabe Mullins’ hand emerged from a mass of limbs, cupping a basketball before jamming it through the hoop. A crowd of Mount Si fans happily erupted inside the Tacoma Dome on Saturday.
It being the Wildcats’ first state title-game appearance in four decades and against the defending Class 4A boys champs in seconded-seeded Gonzaga Prep didn’t matter.
Mount Si came to play. The fourth-seeded Wildcats just couldn’t play along for long in the matchup, getting overrun by Gonzaga Prep’s offense in a 69-43 loss.
“We didn’t have anything to lose,” Mullins said. “The pressure was 100 percent on them, and we played with that chip on our shoulder. … We just didn’t have any legs. We were way too tired.”
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Mullins’ emphatic dunk gave the Wildcats a 19-16 lead with 6:57 left in the second quarter. Mount Si’s offense stalled at the three-minute mark, and the team missed four field goals and two free-throw attempts to close the half.
Gonzaga Prep shot 63.6 percent from the field in the opening half. Senior guard Noah Drynan nailed a three-pointer with 38 seconds on the clock to take a 31-23 lead into the break.
The Bullpups amped-up their up-tempo offense in the second half, using a rapid 15-3 run to open the third quarter. Mount Si coach Jason Griffith rushed to call a timeout with 3:08 on the clock and his Wildcats down 46-26.
“The third quarter was the buzz saw,” Griffith said. “They got a lot of confidence pushing the ball. Their energy increased because they knew they were bugging us on the defensive end and before you know it, you look up and you’re down 20. But we did a pretty good job executing for about the first 14 minutes.”
In the flurry of showtime shots in the second half, G-Prep senior Anton Watson — a Gonzaga signee — had his own dunk to energize his crowd. Watson, a 6-foot-7 forward, finished with 33 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Mullins and freshman point guard Bennett O’Connor had 13 points each while junior Tyler Patterson added 12.
“Once I dunked it, I felt like I brought the energy and everyone started to pick it up,” Watson said of the third quarter. “They didn’t really have big guys who could guard me, so I just had to be aggressive and be assertive and get the ball. (Mount Si) definitely came out fighting. I give them props, but this was ours to take. We couldn’t go home losing.”
G-Prep defended its 2018 championship while Mount Si made its first tournament run since 2006. It played for the title once when it won the crown in 1977.
The Wildcats flipped a 13-11 finish last year into a state runner-up finish that included a 20-game win streak. The roster graduates three seniors, one of which was a big contributor in Jonny Barrett. There’s thought Mount Si could return next season.
“It’s hard to get here,” Griffith said. “I kept telling our kids because before the state tournament, everybody was talking about next year, and I really tried to drill home that we were capable of doing something this year. And they did. We beat a lot of really good teams to get to this point. It wasn’t an accident that we got here. At the same time, we got beat by a better team tonight.”