The top-seeded Bullpups crashed the offensive boards in the fourth quarter to hold off the Eagles 54-52.
TACOMA — Dagger. Dagger. Dagger. Dagger.
Federal Way coach Jerome Collins repeated the word four times. One for each offensive rebound top-seeded Gonzaga Prep was able snatch from the air in the closing two minutes of their boys Class 4A state championship game Saturday. One for each shot-clock reset that drained time to overcome a deficit. One for each scramble that left Federal Way empty-handed.
One for the championship the No. 6 Eagles felt it let slip away as Gonzaga Prep won 54-52 at the Tacoma Dome.
“It was a dagger,” Collins said.
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Down 48-47 with 1:53 left in the game, Federal Way senior Etan Collins committed a foul against Anton Watson as he drove to the hoop for a layup. The G-Prep star missed the ensuing free throw but sophomore teammate Liam Lloyd was there for the offensive rebound.
Gonzaga Prep missed three consecutive field-goal attempts, including a deep three-point shot by Watson. It didn’t matter because Lloyd, junior Jamaari Jones, and senior Sam Lockett grabbed offensive rebounds to extend the possession.
Federal Way (27-2) didn’t touch the ball again until 22 seconds left in the game and trailing 52-47 after Watson made a pair of shots from the line.
“We were telling each other that we had to get the rebound, but it was like we weren’t playing hard enough,” said Etan Collins, who finished with eight points. “But we couldn’t get it. We pretty much gave the game away. That’s what it felt like.”
Collins scored on a putback with nine seconds left, and junior Jalen Womack had a big three-pointer to pull within one point with 2.3 left in the game. But Federal Way ran out of time.
“Those rebounds were actually unbelievable, a clutch moment for all of us,” said Jones, whose three boards were all off the offensive glass and in the second half. “We attacked the basket and everyone stepped up right then and there because we really wanted that game. And this is a crazy feeling I haven’t felt before. I’m still processing that we’re state champions.”
Watson, a 6-foot-7 Gonzaga commit, led the Bullpups with 22 points. Lloyd added 15.
G-Prep (27-0) finished its season undefeated and as Greater Spokane League and District 8 champions. The Bullpups lost to Kentwood in the state semifinals last year, leading many to wonder if they could handle competition west of the mountains.
The GSL realigned its league to give its teams chances to play challenging opponents. Watson credited a winter trip to play West Seattle, Wilson and Davis to help prepare for the state run.
Saturday’s win is the Bullpups’ second championship, last winning in 2011. Gonzaga Prep has placed third four times and fourth twice.
“This was very hard; we just had to trust in everything like the defense, the coaches, the process,” Watson said. “We finally pulled it out with the ring. I feel so much excitement and feel so accomplished.”
Federal Way, which won back-to-back championships in 2015 and 2016, loses two senior starters from its roster. Eagles junior Jaden McDaniels, a four-star recruit, led his team with 14 points and six rebounds. Senior Marcus Austin also had 14.
“We just didn’t go get the ball,” Jerome Collins said. “One play here or there would have changed it. We’re heartbroken now, but in time we’ll reflect back and take the good out of this season. I’m proud of those 12 guys.”
• First team: MVP, Anton Watson, Gonzaga Prep; Jaden McDaniels, Federal Way; Naje Smith, Lewis and Clark; Kaden Anderson, Enumclaw; Alex Schumacher, Skyview.
• Second team: Jamaari Jones, Gonzaga Prep; Riley Sorn, Richland; Cole Northrup, Richland, Samaad Hector, Skyview; Carson Tuttle, Kamiak.