So close and yet so far. The overtime loss in the 4A state semifinals to Davis of Yakima still haunts Lucas Meikle, but thinking about it also motivates him with the cast of returning starters that Bellarmine Prep will bring back next year.
“Losing David (Smith) will be some big shoes to fill, but I think we’ll be in good shape going into next year.”
Sefo Liufau and Isaiah Flynn will return to give Bellarmine plenty of scoring punch along with starting point guard Jacob Salazar – all of whom should put the Lions in prime position to make another run at the 4A state title.
But another thought weighing heavy on the senior front court star is his recently signed letter of intent to play for Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs after graduating next year.
“It will be a great thrill to go to a great school and play for such an outstanding program,” said Meikle. “They treated me well on my visit this year; it will be a great experience.”
The get-acquainted period had been building for quite a while. “They started contacting me after my sophomore year, and I got to know assistant coach Ray Giacoletti and coach Few real well.”
While the relationship with Gonzaga was building, Meikle also got to know a couple of the Zags’ leading scorers. “Kevin Pangos and Robert Sacre were both great to me. Pangos spoke of the speed and the pace of the game in the West Coast Athletic Conference and Sacre talked about play in the low post,” Meikle said. “They could not have been more helpful.”
Thinking back even further, Meikle recalls that the decision to go to Bellarmine in the first place was a fairly easy one. “I made my mind up to go to Bellarmine while I was in the eighth grade. The academic rigors should prepare me well for the four-year Gonzaga experience.”
While the Bellarmine hoop experience has been a great one, Meikle took time to reflect on the people who really helped him a lot on the hill. “I can’t say enough about how coach (Bernie) Salazar’s hard practices have helped shape my game. I have improved tremendously from my freshman year to this point.”
Another credit goes the Jesuit priest on campus simply known as “Father Jerry” (Chapdelaine). “He’s really helped on the academic side my entire four years here at Bellarmine. Father Jerry is everybody’s friend here.”
Not one to look too far ahead to next season, Meikle can’t help but think of the budding rivalry with Olympia. “They have been tough to beat the last few years and even with their heavy graduation losses going into next year, they’ll still be Narrows League contenders on the 4A side.”
Not to be overlooked, there are still two very important people in Meikle’s life that need to be mentioned. “Mom (Tanya) and dad (Brian) have been my biggest boosters throughout my entire athletic life. They deserve all the credit in the world and I don’t know what I would have done without their support.”
Whatever the results at Bellarmine and Gonzaga bring in the next few years on the hardwood, you can bet that Lucas Meikle will be a great asset to both schools.