It is an exhilarating time at Beamer High School, yet boys basketball coach Winston Bell does not want his Titans to get too excited — not yet, anyway.
Yes, it is only the midway point of the South Puget Sound League South Division season.
And, yes, defending Class 4A state champion Curtis still lurks as a threat based on its track record.
But this feels as if it could be the Titans’ year. Five days after winning at No. 9 Curtis, Beamer went to arguably its most unsettling road gymnasium full of raw emotion — at intradistrict rival Federal Way.
And the sixth-ranked Titans held off the Eagles for a 72-65 victory to cap the first half of league play undefeated.
“We knew when we came in here, it would be a fight,” Bell said. “We had to have our emotions in check.”
You don’t have to spell it out for this senior-heavy group: If one of the contenders from the back of the pack wants to make a move on the Titans, it will have to win on Beamer’s floor.
“It is my senior year,” Titans forward Bogdon Bliznyuk said. “We can’t let this opportunity slip.”
Backed by Malik Montoya’s game-high 24 points, the Eagles (10-2, 9-2 SPSL South) led by 10 late in the first half, fell into an extended deep sleep and lost that lead, but they had chances to reel in the Titans (10-1, 9-0) in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 62-54 with 3:23 to go, Federal Way went on a 7-2 run, capped by two Adrian Davis free throws, to cut its deficit to 64-61.
And after Beamer’s Trey Burch-Manning was called for an offensive charge at the 1:55 mark, the Eagles had a chance to get closer, perhaps even tie the score.
That is when Montoya drove the lane and fed Damico Love for what appeared to be an uncontested layup. But Bliznyuk came over from the weak side and blocked the shot from behind.
Love momentarily retrieved it, but the 6-foot-5 Titans captain wrestled it away for Beamer.
Back on offense, Bliznyuk got position on the left block and converted a turnaround one-handed 12-foot jumper to give the Titans a 66-61 lead.
Twenty seconds later, Bliznyuk got the ball on the fastbreak and banked in an 8-footer running at full speed, was fouled and converted the three-point play for a 69-61 Beamer advantage with 1:16 remaining.
“Just had to make a play,” Bliznyuk said. “They had momentum a little bit.”
Bliznyuk led four Beamer players in double figures with 18 points. Quadir Williams contributed 15, and Charles Frazier had 13.
“I thought they finally settled down and did what they wanted to do, and we were still finding it,” Federal Way coach Jerome Collins said. “Their length bothered us and they hurt us on the glass.”Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 todd.milles@ thenewstribune.com