(Tacoma, WA) The final day of the SPSL 4A League Tournament had all the action that you would expect from an entire tournament all packed up into one day. Five top 10 teams took the court at Tacoma Community College throughout the day and each game just got better and better as the day went on.
ESN was there for the 3rd place and championship games on Saturday. Here are the scores from the first four games and our recaps of our four broadcasts.
Puyallup 46, Rogers 33 (Girls 7th Place)
Graham-Kapowsin 56, Rogers 53 (Boys 7th Place)
South Kitsap 39, Bethel 37 (Girls 5th Place)
Puyallup 63, Emerald Ridge 52 (Boys 5th Place)
Bellarmine Prep 59, Olympia 48 (Girls 3rd Place)
The 3rd place game for the girls was up first as Olympia took on Bellarmine Prep. Kei Curtis got off to a quick start offensively for the Lions while both teams worked their way into the game. The opening quarter saw a balanced scoring effort from both teams but the defenses started taking over the game in the 2nd. Kiara Stone hit a very deep three which really swung momentum into the favor of Bellarmine Prep. It looked like the Lions would have a good lead headed into halftime, but the Bears struck quick. A three at the buzzer by Taylor Whaley capped off a good run for Olympia which cut their deficit down to two at halftime as Bellarmine Prep held a 23-21 advantage.
The 3rd quarter played out almost exactly like the opening quarter. The offenses were in a groove and Kiara Stone for Bellarmine Prep and Natalia McBride for Olympia got to the free throw line very frequently in the second half but they both were hitting shots as well. Lauren Wolin helped keep the Bears in it as well with some very good defense and some timely shots as well. Headed into the 4th, it was a solid Bellarmine lead at 43-31.
In the 4th quarter, the Lions continued to roll. Jada Travis started really seeing the floor well and had some perfect assists and Kiara Stone was consistently hitting free throws. The Lions defense limited the open looks for Olympia and never let them build any 4th quarter momentum. It would be Bellarmine Prep hanging on for the win and a 3rd place finish by a final score of 54-43.
Our MVP of the game was Kiara Stone as she dropped 21 points with three tough three pointers and went 6-7 from the free throw line.
Olympia: McBride 16, Whaley 11, Wolin 9, Berschauer 5, Juergens 2
Bellarmine Prep: Stone 21, Curtis 15, Travis 6, Lazrak 4, Leingang 4, Wiggins 2, Teeple 2
Bellarmine Prep 47, Sumner 44 (Boys 3rd Place)
The 3rd place game for the boys was up next and Bellarmine Prep was once again represented as they took on the Sumner Spartans. It was a slow 1st quarter offensively for both teams. Shots just were not dropping and some turnovers created issues too. Chase Mentink came off the bench for Sumner and gave them a spark on offense. Mentink would quickly score five points right at the end of the quarter to give the Spartans a 13-11 lead after the opening quarter.
Neither side figured things out on offense in the 2nd quarter either and the defenses ramped up the aggression to really cause extra problems for the offenses. Tony Scarola did score nine first half points for Bellarmine Prep but the rest of the offense just could not buy a bucket. Sumner showed off their depth in the first half as the bench scored 14 points in the opening half as Mentink, Karl Liedtke, Jaylen Hyppa, Jake Bresnahan, and Cooper Hartley all scored while coming off the bench. Thanks to those guys, Sumner had a 20-19 lead at halftime.
The teams went back and forth all throughout the 2nd half. Neither side could pull away from the other. Sumner saw everyone stay consistent with their offensive output from the 1st half including the bench finishing with 26 points for the game. Malik Momoh of Bellarmine Prep started attacking the paint and was being fouled a lot in the 3rd and 4th quarters. While he shot just 3-6 from the free throw line, Momoh did get shots to fall which helped the Lions stay in it.
With the game tied at 44-44 with under 20 seconds left, Bellarmine Prep still had to worry about the shot clock. Sumner had to respect the threat of Momoh in the paint but it would be Tony Scarola taking the big shot. Scarola launched a three with about 14 seconds left and drained it to give Bellarmine Prep the lead. Sumner would have to force a shot at the other end but it would be short and the Lions would scratch out a 47-44 win.
Tony Scarola was our MVP due to him scoring a game high 16 points and of course hitting the game winner in the final seconds.
Sumner: Mentink 10, Nordling 8, Hyppa 5, McLaughlin 4, Liedtke 4, Hartley 4, Kastberg 4, Bresnahan 3, Miller 2
Bellarmine Prep: Scarola 16, Momoh 11, Inderbitzen 7, Wiggins 6, Smith 5, Kokich 2
Sumner 50, Emerald Ridge 48 (Girls Championship)
Championship games were up next and first up were the girls. #8 Emerald Ridge was looking for some revenge after losing to #5 Sumner during the regular season by three points. This time around, the game would be even closer.
As soon as the teams stepped onto the court everyone who didn’t already know quickly found out how much of a height advantage Emerald Ridge had over Sumner. The Spartans quickly showed where they had the advantage and that was in the speed category. Lainee Houillon put on a show in the opening quarter and forced the Jaguars to change up their strategy. Emerald Ridge put in more speed and it immediately paid dividends as Naomi Senato and Semaj Williams cut the early deficit down to 15-11 after a quarter of play.
The balance of Emerald Ridge shifted the momentum into the favor of the Jaguars in the 2nd quarter. Emerald Ridge started attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line very frequently and were cashing in on those attempts. Defense began leading to offense for Emerald Ridge as well as they forced some turnovers which led to easy baskets the other way. The Spartans also went a little cold from the field for a stretch which allowed the Jaguars and Tami Gallo to hit a big three to take the lead into halftime 27-26.
The intensity really ramped up in the 3rd quarter and both defenses were locked in. Kylie Griffin had a big basket that gave Sumner back momentum but the Spartans defense was the story of the quarter. Emerald Ridge managed only 6 points in the 3rd. Houillon led the charge for Sumner again and the Spartans retook the lead and held it going into the final quarter 36-33.
As the Curtis and Olympia crowd filed in for the boys game, they got a special treat for the conclusion of the girls matchup and everyone was on the edge of their seat in the 4th. Ryah McGriff took over and the freshman scored 11 points in the 4th while the Emerald Ridge defense smothered Sumner. Senato picked up a couple more steals and big buckets. It felt as if Emerald Ridge was about to take the lead as the bench got fired up but Madison Hughes hit a game changing three for Sumner which gave life back to the Sumner crowd. A couple of pull up jumpers went for Lainee Houillon and all of a sudden Sumner had momentum back.
Ryah McGriff would hit two big free throws in the final minute to tie the game with less than a minute to go. With 12 seconds left in the game and 3 seconds on the shot clock, freshman Olivia Collins had to drive and try to force a shot. A floater went up with one on the shot clock and dropped in to give Sumner a two point lead with 9 seconds left. The Spartan defense would hold and it would be Sumner walking away with the league title 50-48.
The MVP of the game was Lainee Houillon who once again displayed elite offense and defense in the biggest moments. She had a game high 24 points and constantly beat the press of Emerald Ridge which at times seemed to be overwhelming. The junior showed off superstar potential in the biggest game of the year.
Emerald Ridge: Senato 16, McGriff 11, Verhoeven 5, Gallo 4, Sapilak 4, Carter 3, Williams 3, Barnett 2
Sumner: Houillon 24, Collins 10, Griffin 8, Hughes 3, Nohr 3, Perez 2
Curtis 63, Olympia 48 (Boys Championship)
The final game of the night was a matchup between two top 5 teams in the 4A classification. The reigning state champions in Curtis were looking for some payback after losing to the Olympia Bears earlier in the season while Olympia was looking to wrestle the SPSL crown away from the Vikings.
Throughout most of the opening quarter, it looked as if Olympia would do just that. The raucous Olympia crowd became louder and louder as Curtis struggled to make a shot and Olympia widened their early lead. A 17-2 run opened the game for the Bears and it felt like this one might be over early. However, a big three ball by Tyce Paulson helped get Curtis going and the Vikings finished the quarter on a 7-0 run but still trailed Olympia 17-9 after a quarter.
It was never a quick scoring output by Curtis in the 2nd quarter to get back into it. Slow and steady offense was they key for Curtis while their lockdown defense kept Olympia from widening the lead back out. Josiah Johnson off the bench was very important for the Vikings as he seemed to light a spark on both ends of the court. Cinque Maxwell as usual led the defensive effort and drew fouls from Olympia big man Andreas Engholm to put Engholm in foul trouble. Zoom Diallo would then give Curtis their first lead of the game with under a minute left in the half and that score would hold into the break at 25-23 in favor of the Vikings.
The 3rd quarter was the most evenly matched quarter of the game. Diallo for Curtis and Parker Gerrits for Olympia both took over the offense but not just by scoring but with some timely assists as well. Engholm was able to stay in the game in the 3rd quarter which gave Olympia their post presence and some timely shots by Matt Lindblom and Drew Carlson for Olympia evened things up at 39-39 headed into the final quarter.
Tenacity was the key word in the 4th for Curtis as defensively and offensively they were dominant. Olympia kept things tight until about six minutes left in the game. Curtis then went on a run highlighted by a massive three by Devin Whitten and some fastbreak points for Johnson built the largest lead of the game for Curtis. Olympia could not get anything to fall on offense and Curtis seemed unable to miss. Free throws by Diallo capped off another SPSL title for the Vikings as they pulled away for the 63-48 win.
Our MVP of the game was Josiah Johnson who really seemed to change the flow of the game once he came in off the bench. His defense set up his offense but he was also a key piece of the Curtis offense even when he wasn’t the one scoring. The senior finished with 12 points but more importantly the spark that got the Curtis flame going.
Olympia: Gerrits 20, Engholm 10, Lindblom 8, Juergens 4, Carlson 4, G. Downing 2
Curtis: Diallo 21, Whitten 13, Johnson 12, Paulsen 10, Maxwell 7