Since Todd Beamer High School opened in 2003, the Titans have not finished ahead of Curtis in the 4A South Puget Sound League boys basketball standings.
The Titans also haven’t defeated Curtis, the reigning 4A state champion, since 2010.
So when the final horn sounded Saturday night – with No. 7 Beamer winning at No. 8 Curtis, 62-55 – the Titans bench raced onto the court and the Beamer fans were screaming.
It clearly was no ordinary win for the Federal Way school.
“We finally got what we’ve worked so hard for – that monkey off our backs,” said Bogdon Bliznyuk, who led Beamer with 19 points and six rebounds.
At 8-1 overall and 7-0 in the 4A SPSL South, the Titans are alone atop the league standings.
Curtis (11-2, 8-1 4A SPSL) used a 22-point third quarter, going 9-for-13 shooting from the floor, to lead 46-43 going into the final period despite the Titans’ size advantage in the frontcout.
So the Titans adjusted to take advantage of their height.
The Titans attacked the rim, putting the ball in the 6-foot-5 Bliznyuk’s hands and letting him go to work. He scored seven points in the final quarter – Curtis scored nine as a team.
Trey Burch-Manning also got going in the fourth, finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds to help offset Curtis guard Tory Causey’s game-high 27 points.
“They are bigger than us, longer and more athletic,” said Curtis coach Tim Kelly. “They just kind of overwhelmed us at times.”
Curtis has finished atop the SPSL standings three of the past four years, including last season’s state-title run while Beamer hasn’t finished higher than No. 3. Even though the Vikings return four players from last season’s squad, Curtis wasn’t able to extend its win streak against Beamer to seven games.
“We talk about it all the time – we are going to get everybody’s best shots,” Kelly said. “(Beamer) wants to win league, so I’m sure coming down here was a big deal for them, and you could see by the way they reacted when the game was over. And rightfully so, they were better than we were.”
But Beamer coach Winston Bell did his best not to emphasize the Titans’ history against the Vikings.
“We wanted to come in here and go 1-0, like it was another game,” Bell said. “This is a new Beamer tradition we are trying to start. I kind of did that on purpose to make sure we didn’t add too much pressure on these kids.”
Being atop the standings after finally beating Curtis didn’t feel quite good enough for Burch-Manning.
“We can’t let this get to us,” he said. “No win can be bigger than the other. We realize we got that monkey off our back, but we have to finish out hard.
“But I hope this shows the state we aren’t joking around. We are coming and we are going to go hard for that state title.”TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677 firstname.lastname@example.org @Cotterill44