Todd Beamer’s Bogdon Bliznyuk hadn’t been held to single-digit scoring at all this season.
He hadn’t battled with Olympia’s pair of 6-foot-8 posts, Brendan Leonard and Michael Champlin, either.
The Bears held Beamer’s top scorer to a season-low total Monday in the opening game of the King Holiday Tournament at Seattle Pacific University. But they couldn’t contain the Titans’ outside game. Guards Trey Burch-Manning and Juwan Flowers scored 17 points each to lead Beamer to a 60-54 victory.
“Olympia was pretty long so our guys looked a little hesitant about going down low on them,” Beamer coach Winston Bell said. “But we had some shooters step up and hold the team together.”
Bliznyuk – who entered the game as Beamer’s leading scorer with an average of at 17.3 points a game – was held to eight points. But Olympia’s focus on keeping the Titans outside the paint opened opportunities from the perimeter.
Flowers took advantage by scoring 15 of his 17 from beyond the 3-point line, sinking five of the Titans’ seven 3-pointers. His 3-pointer followed by an easy fastbreak layup off a Burch-Manning steal midway through the third quarter gave Beamer its largest lead of the game at 37-28.
“That’s a credit to my teammates,” Flowers said. “They found me. The guy that was on me would step in to help and I was able to knock down some shots.”
But the Bears, despite trailing for all except one minute in the first quarter, used a 6-0 run in the fourth quarter to trim their deficit to 51-50 with less than three minutes remaining.
Burch-Manning helped the Titans (12-4 overall, 6-4 SPSL 4A) score on each of their next three possessions to return the lead to eight.
First, he drew a double-team defender and then found Flowers open for a 3-pointer. Next, he found Bliznyuk under the basket for an easy shot, one of his five assists. Then he found Flowers for another basket to extend the Titans’ lead to 58-50. Beamer cruised from there.
Leonard led Olympia with 16 points and eight rebounds. Champlin added 14 points.
“I thought these were two pretty evenly matched teams even though we were very different stylistically,” Olympia coach Luke Salme said. “We didn’t do anything special, we just wanted to keep everything out of the paint. They took 16 3-pointers and we wanted them to do that. Unfortunately they also hit a lot of them.”
What was also unfortunate for Olympia was that its second half of the season has continued to be almost opposite of the first. The Bears (9-5, 3-4) won eight consecutive games to start the season. They have lost five of their past six.
They ended a four-game losing streak on Friday with a victory over Gig Harbor, but couldn’t find a way to keep the trend going Monday.
Beamer, which travels to Bethel for a game tonight at 7, has four games remaining to work its way up the SPSL standings.
Olympia travels to Shelton on Wednesday for one more non-league game before its final stretch of the regular season includes five consecutive Narrows League games.