Skip to main content

O'Dea ends Garfield's WIAA 3A boys basketball championship hold

In rematch of last year's state finals, Fighting Irish lock down 48-43 state quarterfinal victory - their third win over the Bulldogs this season

TACOMA — There will be a new champion crowned when the WIAA Class 3A boys basketball state title game is played Saturday night.

On Thursday morning in the Tacoma Dome, 3A Metro League rivals Garfield and O’Dea met for the fourth time this winter — and for the third time this winter, the Fighting Irish earned a win, this time ending the Bulldogs’ chances at a repeat state title with a 48-43 quarterfinals victory.

The two programs first met in league play in early January, with O’Dea earning an eight-point win. The Fighting Irish won the second league meeting, too, this time by a single point. The Bulldogs later upset O’Dea by four in the league tournament title game earlier this month.

“We’ve gone back-and-forth all the games, so it’s really competitive,” O’Dea forward Malcolm Clark said.

It was again Thursday morning, complete with seven lead changes and seven ties throughout the contest.

Third-seeded Garfield led by two at the first quarter break, and No. 4 seed O’Dea by two, 14-12, at the end of a low-scoring first half. O’Dea remained in front much of the second half, but it wasn’t until midway through the fourth the Fighting Irish took the lead for good.

“I felt in the first half our defense was on-point and did great, but it’s their first day in the Dome, and it’s morning time, and everything,” O’Dea coach Jason Kerr said. “And I think obviously Garfield, being on Day 2, were in a little more comfortable spot.

“It just took us a little time to settle down and realize it’s just a big building. The baskets are the same. And they did much better in the second half.”

Garfield led for the final time on the second of two Ishe Kanhukamwe free throws with 4:18 to go, but Clark answered on the next trip of the floor, giving O’Dea what turned out to be the decisive lead at 37-36 with 3:56 left.

“Our coaches did a great job coaching, they run some great sets for us,” Clark said. “When we play inside-outside, that’s what we like to play. They were playing some great defense, just got to find the open spots.”

O’Dea built the lead as high as seven points in the fourth on a trio of baskets and two free throws — all from Clark. Garfield closed the lead back to one possession twice in the final 1:07, but O’Dea hit three of four free throws in the last 25.9 to advance to Friday’s semifinals for a second consecutive season.

The Fighting Irish reached the title game last year, but were upended by Garfield, 69-50.

“I’m focused on this year,” Clark said. “That’s last year. They’re a great team, all props to them, they beat us last year, so had to come back and play hard.”

Clark led all scorers with 17 points and completed a double-double with 13 rebounds. He also scored 10 of O’Dea’s final 13 points in the game’s decisive run.

Brian Webster added 10 points for the Fighting Irish. Kanhukamwe was the only scorer in double figures for Garfield with 14.

Garfield (15-7) plays No. 8 seed North Central (19-6) at 9 a.m. Friday in a loser-out consolation game. O’Dea (19-9) will play another Metro League rival in No. 10 Rainier Beach (15-10) at 3:45 p.m. in the semifinals.

“Got to keep moving,” Clark said. “Survive and advance. We’re lucky we came out with this one, but we’ve got to keep moving.”