Up until the end of January, Curtis High coach Tim Kelly thought repeating as bi-district boys basketball champions was out of reach.
“We hadn’t shown signs we were capable of doing that until the last few weeks,” Kelly said.
Kelly reasoned that the Vikings had been banged up – three players missed significant chunks of the season – and the team is just now returning to full strength.
“We’d been using patchwork lineups and haven’t had time to gel as a full group,” he said. “We’re just getting to that.”
The timing could not be better.
Curtis held off eighth-ranked Olympia 37-36 in the finals of the Class 4A West Central/Southwest Bi-District tournament Monday at Kent’s ShoWare Center, capturing a second straight bi-district crown.
The Vikings (20-6) are one of the hottest teams in the state, reeling off wins against No. 5 Union, No. 2 Bellarmine Prep and Olympia in the tourney. Curtis is doing it with defense.
“We try to take teams out of what they feel comfortable in,” Kelly said. “We can hold people down and muster up enough offense, like tonight.”
In the second half, Olympia (20-5) outscored the Vikings 23-15 and had an opportunity to claim its first district title since it won the 3A Southwest District crown in 1999.
Trailing 37-36 with 6.6 seconds left, Bears guard Trevor Houser set up to inbound the ball from the sideline near Olympia’s basket. Houser passed to David Carlson, who was supposed to get the ball inside to forward
Brendan Leonard. The ball was tipped, Carlson recovered it and was forced to send up a hurried, off-balance shot.
“They made a good defensive play, got a fingertip on it and we had to scramble,” Olympia coach Luke Salme said.
Forward Darius Johnson-Wilson led Curtis with 13 points and forward Jaurence Chisholm added 10.
Olympia guard Alex Johnson scored 11 of his game-high 17 points in the second half.
Both teams advance to the regional round of the state tournament and will play games Friday at Auburn High. Olympia will face the winner of
Tuesday’s Lake Stevens-Bothell contest at 6 p.m., while Curtis takes on Union (17-7) at 8 p.m.
Curtis defeated fifth-ranked Union 59-51 in the bi-district quarterfinals Friday. Kelly said the Vikings’ approach won’t change and he doesn’t expect the Titans’ change much, either.
“It’s another 32 minutes,” he said. “It comes down to one game and the best team moves forward.”
4A GIRLS FINAL
Mount Rainier 60, Federal Way 40: Rams coach Bob Bolam didn’t need to make a passionate pregame speech to fire up his team.
Mount Rainier had plenty to play for. Not only was the bi-district title on the line, so was the Rams’ pride. Federal Way handed Mount Rainier its first defeat of the season two weeks ago in the SPSL championship.
“The girls were motivated tonight,” Bolam said.
The Rams (24-1) took control early – they led 31-14 at halftime – and never looked back.
Brittany McPhee piled up 22 points, Kiana Gandy scored 14 and Jordan McPhee chipped in 11 as Mount Rainier won its first bi-district title.
Mount Rainier bottled up Federal Way guard Darah Huertas-Vining, holding her to 10 points. Huertas-Vining torched the Rams for 25 points in the earlier contest. Dyesha Belhumeur also scored 10 points for the Eagles (21-4).
Both teams will play in the regional round of the state tournament Saturday at Auburn High. Mount Rainier will play Bethel (15-10) at 6 p.m. and Federal Way draws the winner of today’s Stanwood-Skyline game at 4 p.m.