TACOMA — Just when it seemed like no team was going to get the upper hand, O’Dea High School boys basketball star Paolo Banchero changed everything in a span of about 40 seconds.
With his team trailing Wilson of Tacoma by a point midway through the second quarter, Banchero scored on a thunderous dunk on a baseline drive. The 6-foot-10 junior wing followed with a long three-pointer and a defensive rebound and a full-court pass to Jermaine Davis, who laid it in.
A back-and-forth affair turned O’Dea’s way in a flash on that 7-0 run, sparking O’Dea to an 84-73 victory Friday in a Class 3A state regional-round game at Mount Tahoma High School.
“That built a lot of momentum and after that we stretched it out,” said Banchero of the second-quarter run he sparked.
The teams played as if their seasons were on the line in this fast-paced game even though they weren’t.
Both are still headed to the state tournament in the Tacoma Dome. But O’Dea (21-5), ranked No. 7 in the RPI ratings, gets a bye into Thursday’s quarterfinals. Wilson (21-3), ranked No. 2, will have to play a loser-out game Wednesday against Marysville-Getchell (16-8), which is making its first trip to the Dome.
“For us, it was a must-win game,” said Banchero, who had a game-high 28 points. “We’ve been saying that all week, just because if we won this, we have a better chance (at state).”
There were seven lead changes in the first half, the final one coming on Banchero’s dunk midway in the second quarter. His three-point play in the final minute gave him 14 first-half points and his team a 46-34 halftime lead.
O’Dea extended the lead to 16 points early in the third quarter, but Wilson didn’t quit, playing fast and hard. But the Irish, aided by Banchero’s 10 points in the third quarter that included another thunderous dunk, repelled the charge and extended the lead to 68-50 entering the final period.
That was too big of a hole for Wilson, which came into the game on a 14-game winning streak.
O’Dea’s five losses coming into the game had been against Eastside Catholic (three times) and two out-of-state teams. The defending state champions showed Friday night they will be tough again to beat next week.
John Christofillis added 14 points for O’Dea and Davis had 13.
Wilson was led by Dermani Green’s 22 points.
But Friday was O’Dea’s day and now it wants more.
“I am beyond excited,” Banchero said. “I’ve been waiting for this all year. It’s the best time of the year for me and my teammates. … I think we are the best team in the state when we are clicking on all cylinders.”