Last week’s girls basketball playoff game between the Gig Harbor Tides and Beamer Titans was a classic case of David vs. Goliath, and the Tides couldn’t find a rock big enough to slay the giant.
The Titans aren’t the most veteran-laden squad, but they had enough skill to win 17 regular-season games and the Class 4A South Puget Sound League South Division title.
The Tides’ work ethic has helped them beat more talented opponents, and they were riding a wave of momentum after they won nine of their last 13 games to squeeze into the playoffs as the Narrows League’s No. 4 seed.
But Beamer’s talent proved too much for Gig Harbor, and, after a competitive first half, the Titans pulled away to win 52-24 in the first round of the West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament on Feb. 12.
The Tides’ season ended on Friday at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, where they dropped a 55-41 decision to defending state champion Skyview.
The Storm took control early. They held the Tides to one field goal in the second quarter and led 37-16 at halftime.
Gig Harbor (9-13) rallied in the second half and scored the final 10 points of the third period, then cut the deficit to 10 with 2 minutes, 26 seconds left in the fourth.
Talen, the Tides’ all-Narrows League guard, scored 11 of her 17 points after the break.
Gig Harbor did some damage at the free-throw line, where it finished 15-for-21 (71 percent), but it shot only 12-of-48 (25 percent) from the field.
Skyview got 13 points and 16 rebounds from Aubrey Ward-El. The Storm were eliminated from the tournament Saturday with a loss to Bellarmine.
Three nights earlier, Gig Harbor pushed Beamer throughout the first half, forcing six turnovers and getting a pair of 3-pointers from Katy Larson to stay close.
Right before halftime, though, Talen missed the front end of a one-and-one for the Tides, and Titans star Megan Huff canned a fadeway jumper at the buzzer. The four-point swing put Beamer up 23-14 at the break, and it set the stage for a second-half blitz.
“I told the girls at halftime, ‘If Taylor makes that one-and-one, and we don’t give up that shot, it’s a five-point game,’ ” Tides coach Bob Boback said.
First-year Titans coach Cory Alexander told his players they needed to adopt a “loser-out mentality,” and they responded in the second half.
“If you want to be one of those top teams, you’ve got to be able to play hard at all times,” Alexander said. “Gig Harbor, you can’t fall asleep on them. A team like that, you give them some momentum, they’ll come back and win the game.”
Beamer (20-5) removed all doubt about the outcome as it opened the third quarter on a 13-0 run. Nia Alexander, one of the team’s three freshman starters, led the surge and scored 12 of her game-high 16 points in the second half.
Fellow ninth-graders Quinessa Caylao-Do and Bria Rice also had key performances as they combined for 19 points.
“They play like upperclassmen,” Cory Alexander said of the three freshmen. “I put a lot of weight on their shoulders, and I couldn’t ask for more. They’re playing big minutes for me. They play like they’ve been playing this game awhile.”
Gig Harbor’s offense went cold in the second half. The Tides didn’t make a field goal until Rachel Sommers hit a jumper with less than three minutes to play in the fourth period.
Larson and Talen shared the team lead with six points each.
“They’re so quick that we had a hard time getting into the key and getting our offense initiated,” Boback said.
The Titans were coming off a one-point loss to top-ranked Mount Rainier in the SPSL championship game, and Alexander felt they gained some confidence as they kept pace with a more experienced foe.
“That game was more of a momentum-builder, to show the girls that we can play with any team,” he said. “We’ve got a few kinks we’ve got to fix, but we’re right there. We’re a young team and we feed off each other, and that’s what I love about this team.”
Gig Harbor also had some positive energy going into the game after it secured a playoff spot with a 64-62 win at Central Kitsap on Feb. 4.
The Tides needed to win to finish 6-6 in league and avoid a tiebreaker with Olympia, and they did it behind four double-digit scorers: Larson (17), Talen (16), McKenzie Alton (12) and Sammi Markham (12).
“That was such a breakthough game,” Boback said. “What an amazing feat, to lose by 33 on our court, then beat them on their court. What a turnaround.”Sports Editor Neil Pierson can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_neil.