Spent from playing a physically and emotionally draining semifinal contest less than 24 hours prior, Bellarmine Prep fell to Union 62-51 in the consolation finals of the Class 4A boys basketball state tournament Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.
“It’s tough, but I was real proud of our guys,” Lions coach Bernie Salazar said. “We played hard.”
Bellarmine Prep (24-5) claimed fifth place.
The seventh-ranked Lions lost junior Lucas Meikle, an all-league forward, two minutes into the game when his forehead smacked the court. The blow left Meikle with stitches and a concussion, Salazar said.
Bellarmine Prep also played much of the game without forward Sefo Liufau, who was in foul trouble. Liufau finished with 13 points in 21 minutes.
Missing Meikle and Liufau, Bellarming Prep fell behind 18-7 after the first quarter. Guard David Smith sparked a rally, scoring 12 of his 20 points in the second quarter the pulled the Lions within three points, 29-26, in the final minute of the first half.
The Lions stayed close to the Titans (21-8) throughout the second half, but never took the lead.
Union guard Jordan Chatman exploded for 32 points, making 6 of 12 3-pointers, and guard Tyler Copp chipped in 17 points.
Salazar is hopeful that experienced gained from playing in the state tournament will pay off next season. Three of the Lions’ leading scorers – guard Isaiah Flynn, Liufau and Meikle – are juniors.
“I think it’s a great experience for our underclassmen,” Salazar said. “We can build on this experience.”