Clinging to a two-point lead, Bellarmine Prep boys basketball coach Bernie Salazar did not get to breathe easy until Malik Montoya’s 3-point shot bounced long off the back of the rim.
Lions point guard Isaiah Flynn chased down the rebound, and hurled the ball into the backcourt as time expired.
The No. 10 Lions (15-7) survived yet another nail-biter, earning a 48-46 win over the No. 6 Federal Way (19-4) at Mount Tahoma High on Friday.
With the win, the Lions moved on to the Class 4A West Central District semifinals and clinched a spot in the regional round of the state tournament.
Bellarmine Prep faces Todd Beamer at 6:15 p.m. today at Auburn High. The Titans handled Tahoma, 73-55, in the early game.
The Eagles take on Auburn at 6 p.m. today at Mount Tahoma while Tahoma faces Thomas Jefferson at 7:45 p.m. Both of those games are loser-out contests.
The Lions had trouble with Federal Way’s pressure defense, turning the ball over 18 times. However, Bellarmine Prep still showed enough poise late in the game to hang on to the win, making 6 of 9 free throws in the final quarter.
“That’s the one thing we didn’t do as well as we would’ve liked,” Salazar said about the turnovers. “Our rebounding was really good. And that was a big priority. But so was taking care of the basketball. But they do a good job with their press, and that’s one of their strengths.”
The key for the Lions was a third-quarter surge that gave them some room in the close game. Guards Carson Hollyoak and Flynn combined to drain four 3-pointers in the third quarter, giving Bellarmine a 38-31 cushion heading into the fourth.
“Big shots,” Salazar said. “Carson hit one, and then Isaiah hit one, and that gave us a little cushion. And it was just enough.”
The Eagles shot just 1 of 10 from the field in the third quarter.
Bellarmine’s Sefo Liufau controlled things inside in the first half, scoring 10 points. However, after earning his third foul with just over a minute left in the half, Liufau played more tentative in the second half, and was held scoreless. He did finish with nine rebounds.
With Liufau taking a more cautious approach, Gonzaga-bound forward Lucas Meikle took over the scoring for Bellarmine, finishing with 13 points, five rebounds and four blocked shots.
Brayon Blake and Montoya led the Eagles with 16 points apiece.
Beamer 73, Tahoma 55: The Titans (18-5) ran away from the Bears (17-7) in the second half, outscoring Tahoma 20-12 in the third quarter to take a commanding, 51-35 lead.
Bogdon Bliznyuk paced the Titans with 19 points, while Trey Burch-Manning added 17.
DeShon Williams led Tahoma with a game-high 20 points.eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com