Curtis 81, O’Dea 60

(University Place, WA) There was a playoff feel at Ray Beard Gymnasium at Curtis High School on Wednesday night as the O’Dea Fighting Irish traveled south to take on the defending 4A state champions in the Curtis Vikings.  A massive showdown between two of the very best basketball teams in the state had many eyes on the December matchup that came about in a unique way.

The head coaches of both teams in Tim Kelly for Curtis and Jason Kerr for O’Dea in a round of golf to decide who would host the highly anticipated game. Coach Kelly said that was the first time he had ever beaten Coach Kerr. The two would have a rematch the following day to decide the attire they would wear for the game. If Kelly won, both coaches would wear a suit and tie. Kerr would win the second match however so both sides wore sweatpants for a more casual feel to the big game.

Fans from both sides as well as neutral fans packed the bleachers in one of the most filled high school basketball gyms I have ever seen in my life. The atmosphere was electric as the officials through up the ball for the opening tip and it was finally time to play basketball.

It was a slow start for both sides as they felt each other out while also playing very good defense in the early minutes. Senior Tyce Paulson buried a three for the first points of the game and Curtis took the lead and held it for almost the entirety of the game. O’Dea had trouble with the defense of Curtis and saw the shot clock wind down on them consistently in the opening quarter. That isn’t uncommon against a Curtis squad and the Irish are a team that aren’t going to take low quality shots.

The only thing that seemed to go against Curtis was Cinque Maxwell picking up two early fouls that saw him sit for most of the opening half. Everyone around him stepped up however. Josiah Johnson got the start and gave Curtis a physical presence in the paint on defense. O’Dea got a couple of late threes by Brian Webster to give them their lone lead of the game at 13-12. Meanwhile, Tyce Paulson took care of things on the offensive end to help Curtis build a 17-13 lead after a quarter of play.

Curtis superstar Zoom Diallo then got his offense going in the second quarter. With both Diallo and Paulson on their game and Johnson picking up some points in transition off of his great defense, O’Dea found themselves swarmed by a confident Viking squad. Noel Davis picked up some pace on offense for the Irish as he finished the first half with eight points, but the shots just weren’t falling for O’Dea. Xavier Ahrens and Bilal El Ghalemi came off the bench and did what they do every game and that is play tremendous defense which just made things even more difficult for O’Dea. At the half Curtis saw their lead grow to 37-24.

The third would be another 20+ point quarter for the Vikings as they just continued to dominate on the offensive end. Zoom Diallo continued his great night and got stronger as the game went on while Paulson continued to knock down his shots as well. Cinque Maxwell was able to get involved in the 3rd and despite O’Dea finding more success on offense with Miles Goodman and Mason Williams getting into a rhythm, Curtis would not relent with their attack in the 4th quarter either. Rebounding was a difference maker for Curtis as they dominated the boards all game long. An incredible performance by the Vikings ended with an 81-60 victory in a statement to the rest of the state.

Our MVP of the game was Tyce Paulson who shot lights out all game long as he finished with 23 points. He was pesky on defense as well creating some turnovers that led to buckets on the other end. Paulson is always going to get his points, but the defense added to his impact and both offense and defense were at a high level for the Curtis senior.

While the sweats won’t stay for Coach Kelly, he has to hope that the level of play that Curtis showed on Wednesday well as the Vikings moved to 8-1 on the season in their quest to repeat as 4A champions. Curtis will be off for the rest of 2022 before returning to the court to take on Sumner on January 5th. O’Dea drops to 5-1 after their first loss of the season that will surely only make them better. The Fighting Irish will now head down to California for the Torrey Pines Classic in San Diego starting on December 27th when they battle Dougherty Valley of San Ramon, California.


O’Dea- Williams 17, Davis 13, Jackson 12, Goodman 6, Webster 6, Araujo 2, Aschalew 2, Clark 2

Curtis- Diallo 24, Paulson 23, Johnson 11, Maxwell 8, Whitten 7, Ahrens 4, El Ghalemi 2, Chapel 2


Diallo Dime for an Assist

Davis to Goodman Alley Oop for O’Dea

Paulson gets block and then hits a 3

Tyce Paulson Interview

Tim Kelly Interview


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