Coach Doug Cocke’ can wield run-on sentences at warp-like speed with the best talkers in high school boys basketball. And these days, what’s going on at Stadium High School heightens the tendency.
Every once in a while, he will pause. Within that moment he tries to process how the Tigers are controlling the 4A Narrows League.
And eventually he just breaks out in a big, fat smile.
Once again, the Tigers were down, this time to defending league champion Bellarmine Prep.
And once again, they pulled one out of the fire late – a 53-46 victory at Stadium High School.
If the Tigers (11-3, 7-0) do go on and win their first league basketball title since 1991, they will look back at the two wins
over the Lions (5-9, 2-5) as key junctures.
Before this season, Bellarmine Prep had beaten the Tigers 14 consecutive times, dating back to the 2005-06 season.
“It is a huge step. We have great fans, great staff – they’ve been waiting for this,” Cocke’ said. “It has been a long time. To beat Bellarmine twice is unbelievable because they’ve been dominating Stadium.”
For three quarters, Bellarmine Prep was doing exactly what it wanted – forcing the Tigers into turnovers and getting second-chance baskets from Rex Bodoia (11 points) and Will Wolf (eight) to build a 39-34 lead.
But it all changed in a hurry.
Wolf’s first layup attempt in the fourth quarter was blocked by Stadium’s Malik Mayeux. It set the tone the rest of the way because the Lions were held scoreless the first 5:02 of the quarter.
“I think (our matchup zone) bothered them a little bit,” Cocke’ said. “That was kind of a key thing.”
On the other end, Stadium was getting to the free-throw line. The catalyst was – no surprise – big man Lucious Brown, who was controlling things from the top of the arc.
Then came the sequence that gave the Tigers the lead for good. After Bodoia missed an inside shot, Brown took off the other way. He performed two behind-the-back dribble moves to shed defenders, then competed a spin move in the lane and nearly made an acrobatic basket before being fouled.
Brown sank both free throws to give Stadium a 40-39 lead as the highlight of the team’s 12-0 run to start the fourth quarter, and the Lions were never heard from again.
“That’s been our season,” Bellarmine Prep coach Bernie Salazar said. “We had three good quarters ... but give them credit. They are undefeated in league for a reason. I am proud of our guys – we battled really hard. We didn’t make our shots there. They did.”
Brown finished with 24 points and eight rebounds – just two nights ago he torched 3A No. 2 Wilson for 31 points in a 53-50 league crossover loss. Mayeux and Bobby Moorehead added 10 points apiece.
The Lions were led by Malachi Flynn’s 15 points.
“I knew if we could outlast them and work a little harder in the end, then we could beat them,” Cocke’ said. “It feels great.”Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 email@example.com @ManyHatsMilles