If the Todd Beamer Titans are going to have any shot at winning a Class 4A state title this season, they’re going to have to likely win a handful of tough games.
Friday night’s matchup at home with defending 4A state champion and SPSL South Division rival Curtis was a great place to start.
The seventh-ranked Titans overcame coughing up a big lead, four players — including three starters — fouling out and a forgettable fourth quarter on offense to notch a hard-fought, 87-82, win over the Vikings in overtime.
Beamer (13-1, 12-0 SPSL South) swept the season series with Curtis and now has the inside track to the division title heading into the home stretch.
“Perseverance … our bench really held us down (tonight),” Beamer coach Winston Bell said.
But it was the gritty performance in overtime that helped the Titans prevail. Tied at 72 in overtime with 2 minutes, 19 seconds left, junior Diallo Redd Jr. hit a tough runner in the lane to give Beamer a two-point lead.
“Our bench had to come in and make a play,” Beamer senior Bogdon Bliznyuk said.
After a defensive stop at the other end, Bliznyuk sank a pair of free throws to push the lead to four points. Curtis’ Ashaunti Potts-Woods scored on a tip-in with 57 seconds left to cut it to 81-79, but that’s as close as it would get.
Bliznyuk, who scored a team-high 23 points, shot 5-for-6 from the line in overtime.
“Kind of an ugly game … but you just have to play through and tough it out,” he said. “It’s not always going to be easy. It’s basketball against a tough team. I just kept trying to get to the line.”
Curtis battled hard to get it to overtime, forcing the Titans into 11 fourth-quarter turnovers while shooting 15-for-19 from the free throw line in rallying from a 59-45 third quarter deficit. Beamer also fired off a 10-0 run to start the third quarter, running out to a 49-33 lead.
“I knew it was going to be intense,” Bell said. “They won state. They play championship basketball. They know how to attack the players. We’re just learning how to do that. They played head-up basketball they were more aggressive than we were. We persevered and came away with it.”
After scoring 19 points in the second half and torching the Vikings down low, Beamer senior Trey Burch-Manning fouled out with 1:48 left in the third quarter, finishing with 21 points. Charles Frazier (14 points), Jalen McDaniels (two points) and Rayvonne Freeman (four points) also fouled out for the Titans.
Jason Williams led the comeback charge for ninth-ranked Curtis (14-3, 11-2 SPSL South), scoring 18 points in the second half before fouling out early in overtime. Potts-Woods finished with a game-high 32 points.