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State 4A/3A boys: Mt. Spokane must wait again after semifinal loss to Eastside Catholic; G-Prep, North Central eliminated

Mar. 1—TACOMA — The last time an "East Side" team won the boys State 3A title was in 1984, when Othello went over the pass and came back with the gold ball.

Mt. Spokane has come close, appearing in the semifinals the past two seasons and the championship game in 2019. Yet, that title has eluded the Wildcats.

After running away from Mountlake Terrace 82-58 in a quarterfinal Thursday, the sixth-seeded Wildcats earned a return trip to the semis. But this tournament usually goes through the Metro League, and this year was no exception — and Mt. Spokane found second-seeded Eastside Catholic waiting as its opponent, featuring four-star prospect and University of Virginia-bound Jacob Cofie and fellow 6-foot-10 forward Yabi Aklog.

Despite a tense game throughout, Mt. Spokane will have to wait another year as Eastside persevered.

Cofie scored 20 points with nine rebounds, Aklog added 10 points and 13 boards and the Crusaders (22-6) edged the Wildcats (21-5) 55-53, advancing to face another Metro team, 10th-seeded Rainier Beach in the title game at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Rainier Beach topped O'Dea 59-46 in the other semifinal. The Wildcats face O'Dea in the third-place game at 11:15 a.m.

Mt. Spokane was led, as it has been all season, by senior Ryan Lafferty with 22 points and seven rebounds. Bode Gardner had 14 points for the Wildcats, including eight in the third quarter when EC doubled Lafferty. Mt. Spokane finished 1 of 12 from beyond the arc.

"That was, by far, the most ... physical game in terms of how the game and style was played. And so credit to (EC), they made a lot of plays, and they definitely earned the win today," Mt. Spokane coach David Wagenblast said. "We didn't do anything that wasn't anything other than ourselves. We took great shots that didn't go our way. And, you know, going against to 6-10 kids is never easy."

"(EC) was a good team. We knew that going into it," Lafferty said. "Competitive game the whole time, so it could have gone either way. ... Those two bigs are really tough to deal with. We knew that going into it, so that was that was a big factor in the game."

"(Lafferty) is obviously one of the best players in the state and he showed that today," Wagenblast said. "He was battling through some stuff adversity-wise and was just full center of attention for (EC)."

Gardner threw down a two-handed slam early in the fourth quarter, but EC maintained a slim advantage. Cofie was called for a player control foul with 40 seconds left, then was whistled again at the other end and Lafferty hit 1 of 2 to make it 54-51 with 20.8 left.

The Crusaders broke the press, and Dash Lamebull-Ingram made 1 of 2 after getting fouled. Lafferty scored a putback to make it 55-53 with 3.7 seconds left. Mt. Spokane stole the long inbounds pass and called timeout with 2.7 left. The Wildcats ran a play to Lafferty at the top of the key, but the pass was low and his effort at the horn fell short.

"The play was for me to come get it off the screen," Lafferty said. "But I fumbled it and then couldn't get a shot off.

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Mt. Spokane was limited to nine points in the fourth quarter.

EC went inside to start, as Cofie and Aklog scored the first two buckets of the game. Then 6-6, 285-pound Kodi Greene came off the bench for six points and the Crusaders led 18-13 after one quarter.

Late in the second quarter, Lafferty converted a three-point play off a scooping layup and Andrew Rayment scored in the paint just before the horn. The Wildcats trailed 29-26 at the half.

Mt. Spokane took its first lead of the game early in the third quarter on a Nalu Vargas layup through traffic. Gardner had eight points, including a two-handed jam, and Eastside Catholic led 43-42 entering the fourth quarter.

(8) Kentwood 72, (3) Gonzaga Prep 68: Brandon Tagle scored 21 points, Blake Stempniak added 20, including six of Kentwood's 11 3-pointers, and the eighth-seeded Conquerors (21-8) eliminated the third-seeded Bullpups (20-7) in a State 4A fourth-place bracket game .

Kentwood faces 11th-seeded Skyview at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the fourth-place game.

"It's not the way we wanted to go out," G-Prep senior Henry Sandberg said. "But you know, there's a lot of stuff to hang my hat on — three district champs, fourth place last year, GSL champ my sophomore year. I'd say it was really good run."

Junior Nate Christy led G-Prep with 27 points and nine rebounds. Sandberg finished with 11 points and nine boards.

Stempniak's 3-pointer with 3 1/2 minutes left made it a five-point game.

Christy was fouled on a 3-pointer and made all three free throws to make it 70-68 with 8 seconds to go, but sophomore Dylynn Groves was called for an intentional foul on the inbounds play. Tyler Maurer made 1 of 2 at the line, and on the ensuing possession Zachary Hernandez did the same to ice it.

"There were a ton of 3-pointers," Sandberg said.

"We were in multiple defensive coverages — just couldn't figure out how to guard it. A couple of miscommunications I think cost us."

(3) Garfield 71, (8) North Central 58: Legend Smiley scored 17 points and the third-seeded Bulldogs (17-7) eliminated the eighth-seeded Wolfpack (19-7) in a State 3A fourth-place bracket game.

Senior Eli Williams led NC with 25 points, and junior JuJu Ervin added 12 points with 10 rebounds.

NC senior Jacori Ervin sat out due to a flagrant foul at the end of Thursday's game.