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BELLEVUE – The separation happened swiftly, even if it didn’t happen quickly.

For nearly three full quarters, eighth-seeded Gonzaga Prep gave top-ranked and unbeaten Mount Si all it wanted in the teams’ Class 4A regional boys basketball battle on Saturday.

In the end, it turned into another double-digit victory for the Wildcats, though, as Mount Si finally pulled away for a 69-55 win at Bellevue College.

"Exactly what we expected," Mount Si coach Jason Griffith said. "Gonzaga Prep is not your typical 8-seed. We’ve known all year long that they have talent. The whole time I’ve been telling people the one team I didn’t want to see in the quarterfinals was Gonzaga Prep. So what happens? We see them in the Round of 16."

These foes will be on the opposite sides of the 4A bracket when the state tournament begins Wednesday in the Tacoma Dome.

"We fully expect to see them again in Tacoma," Mount Si senior Bennett O’Connor said.

If so, it likely will be for the title on Saturday night.

The Bullpups (14-8) will need to win three games to get to that point. Gonzaga Prep begins its tournament schedule at 9 p.m. on Wednesday night in a first-round game against either Eastmont or Federal Way.

"We’ve been riding a little momentum," Gonzaga Prep coach Matty McIntyre said. "We’ll get going on Wednesday and see what happens."

McIntyre’s team has endured plenty to get to this point. The Bullpups intentionally scheduled difficult non-conference opponents, and lost to state teams such as O’Dea and King’s knowing it would pay off.

"Absolutely," McIntyre said. "We’re bruised and battered."

That experience gave Gonzaga Prep some confidence on Saturday against the state’s No. 1 team. And the Bullpups turned that confidence into a solid performance for most of the afternoon.

Mount Si continuously tried to pull away. And when O’Connor scored with 2:36 remaining in the first half, the Wildcats had built an eight-point advantage, 32-24.

Jayden Stevens had a different idea, however. Stevens made back-to-back buckets over the next minute and change, spurring a 7-0 run that closed the gap before Mount Si settled for a 34-31 lead at the half.

Stevens was the driving offensive force all game long for Gonzaga Prep, and the recent Oregon State University commit ultimately finished with a game-high 21 points. But even Stevens couldn’t keep the decisive run from taking place.

Mount Si scored the final four points of the third quarter to extend a three-point advantage to 46-39 heading into the fourth quarter. O’Connor sank a 3-pointer, part of his team-high 18 points, to open scoring in the fourth and swiftly the lead extended to double digits, 49-39.

"We knew we had a chance," Stevens said. "We needed a few more plays, to do a few more things."

Instead, it was the Wildcats who made the plays in the fourth and Gonzaga Prep never got closer than eight again.

"Whatever it takes to get the win," O’Connor said. "I’ve definitely stepped up a lot in the scoring category this year."

O’Connor led five Wildcats into double figures scoring against Gonzaga Prep. Junior Miles Heide was visibly frustrated when shots he normally makes weren’t going down for much of the game, but he scored seven of Mount Si’s final nine points to finish with 13, adding those to his nine rebounds and two big blocks.

Blake Forrest added 14 points, Cam Holliway 13 and Quin Patterson chipped in 11.