TACOMA — Gary Winston walked out of the Walla Walla locker room, a stone face staring out from beneath the hood of his sweatshirt.
Other teammates filtered out, wearing similar blank expressions.
“There’s a lot of disappointment and frustration in there,” Wa-Hi coach John Golden said after his team’s comeback fell short against Wilson in a 52-44 loss Thursday night in the 4A boys state quarterfinals.
Unlike a year ago, when Wa-Hi got run out of the quarterfinals by eventual champion Federal Way, this time the Blue Devils (23-6) had a chance to pull out a victory over the Rams (20-8).
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The Blue Devils used a 13-0 run to tie the game at 42 with 2:07 left on two free throws by Colton Arias.
But on the ensuing possession, Demetrius Smith backed down Michael Weisner, turned and hit an 8-footer while being fouled.
The three-point play with 1:47 left kicked off a game-ending 10-2 run, dropping Wa-Hi into the fourth-place semifinals at 3:30 p.m. today against the loser of the late quarterfinal between Eastlake and Kentwood.
“We want to play on Saturday,” Golden said. “That’s the next goal. We’ve got to be ready to bounce back.”
Two turnovers in the final 93 seconds, and a missed front end of a one-and-one by Winston with 28.8 seconds left were tell-tale signs Wa-Hi was spent down the stretch.
“We just couldn’t get over the hump,” Golden said. “We expended so much energy coming back, we didn’t have a lot of energy at the end.”
Wa-Hi came out on fire, hitting four of its first six shots to lead 10-2. But Wilson came back with a 16-2 run, hitting four 3-pointers and getting two putbacks, to force Wa-Hi out of the 2-3 zone that had been so effective in Wednesday’s first-round win over Lincoln.
“That was my fault that we didn’t get out of the zone soon enough,” Golden said. “That put us in a hole. I told the guys they had to get us out of it, and they turned up the pressure in the fourth quarter and did it.”
Four players scored 12 points apiece for Wilson, including backup post Xavier Cooper, who was 6-for-6 from the field. “He threw in some jump hooks that were from another level,” Golden said. “Those were big-time plays.”
Weisner led Wa-Hi with 18 points and seven rebounds before fouling out in the final half-minute. Winston added 16 points.
Wilson 52, Walla Walla 44
WILSON — Jackson 2, Smith 12, Waters 0, Hope 12, Stevens 12, Dam 0, Cooper 12, Peart 2. Totals 21-39 6-7 52.
WALLA WALLA — Winston 16, Aguir 0, Porter 0, Arias 7, Weisner 18, James 3, Alden 0, Watson 0, Sumerlin 0. Totals 14-32 10-13 44.
Walla Walla 15 4 6 19 — 44
Wilson 18 10 8 16 — 52
Highlights — Weisner 7 rbs; Xavier Cooper 6 rbs.