The Conquerors lost to Federal Way last year. They'll take on Union for the title Saturday.
TACOMA — Kentwood is going to get another chance.
A year after losing to Federal Way in the Class 4A state title game, the Conquerors are heading back. This time No. 5 Kentwood will face Union — for the third time this season — after the Conquerors hung on to defeat Gonzaga Prep 56-53 in a state semifinal Friday night at the Tacoma Dome.
“This group is very special,” Kentwood coach Blake Solomon said. “We’ve had a goal since last March to get back to this game. But not just to get there. We want to avenge last year’s loss that we felt went right through our hands.”
Kentwood (26-3) had to handle No. 2 Gonzaga Prep’s defense, which allows a Class 4A-best 45.6 points per game. The Conquerors put up the third-highest point total against the Bullpups this season.
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Senior Beau Roggenbach led Kentwood with 18 points and seven rebounds. Koby Huerta netted 16 points — with two key three-pointers in the fourth quarter — and Darius LuBom finished with 12 points for the Conquerors.
“The last thing we told them is, ‘The team with the strongest belief in each other is going to win,’ ” Solomon said.
Gonzaga Prep (24-2) lost in the semifinals for the second year in a row.
“I think it’s pretty incredible what the kids have been able to accomplish,” Prep coach Matty McIntyre said. “It’s been an incredible run. … It’s just a special journey and we have one more opportunity and one more challenge ahead of us.”
Sam Lockett (11 points) and Anton Watson (10) led the Bullpups, who will play Richland for the third time this season in the third-place game at 11:15 a.m. Saturday. Gonzaga Prep is 2-0 against the Bombers this season, with the latest victory decided by one point.
Kentwood will be joined in the championship game by No. 1 Union (21-4), which got a layup by star Cameron Cranston with three seconds to go to come from behind and top Richland 63-61 in another close semifinal.
With seven seconds left and the game tied at 61, Union inbounded the ball and found Cranston cutting to the hoop. The senior found the net to send his team to the title game for the first time since 2010 — when the Titans won the state championship.
“It’s the sweetest layup of my career,” said Cranston, who had 25 points.
“You kind of knew it was going to come down to whoever had the ball last,” Union coach Blake Conley said. “We had no clue how it was going to go. … Luckily we had the ball at the end of the game and were able to make the shot.”
Cole Northrop scored 16 points for No. 11 Richland (21-6).