Joey Bodoia baffled the Bears again.
This time, the Bellarmine Prep High School senior scored a game-high 41 points, and the Lions escaped Olympia with a 68-62 victory.
He scored a game-high 21 points when the schools met in Tacoma in December, and the Lions won that Class 4A South Puget Sound League meeting, too.
But Tuesday night at Olympia High School, the loss stung a bit more.
Not only did Bellarmine Prep increase its winning streak over Olympia — its former 4A Narrows League rival — to five games, it might also cost the Bears a home playoff game.
“We just need to take it game by game and get our wins,” Olympia senior Hunter Sipe said.
With the win, the Lions (11-6, 10-3 4A SPSL) are squarely in third place in the 4A SPSL, with the Bears (11-7, 9-5) in fourth.
The league’s top three finishers are awarded home games in the first round of the 4A West Central/Southwest district tournament, which begins in two weeks.
The fourth-place team travels south to play the champion of the 4A Greater St. Helens League.
“We just have to have the mindset to finish the season no matter who we play,” Sipe said. “We need those wins to take us farther in the season.
“Especially for playoffs, going in we need to play our best games. We can’t have any lapses in our play.”
Olympia still has an outside chance for that coveted home game — Bellarmine has to lose its final three games, Olympia has to win its final two — but it is likely the Bears will remain in fourth.
Olympia’s shot at third place narrowly slipped away, again, at the hands of Bodoia.
After the Bears cut a comfortable Lions lead to three points with 43.5 seconds to play, Bodoia quashed the comeback.
Following a made free throw — he was 16 of 21 (76.2 percent) from the line — Bodoia swiped an in-bounds pass.
He pounded into the paint and shot a reverse layup, giving the Lions a 63-57 lead with 36 seconds to play.
“He had a special night,” Bellarmine Prep coach Bernie Salazar said. “His steal at the end of the game really sealed the game. So, very happy for him.”
That was Bodoia’s final basket of the game — in which he scored 20 in the first half, 21 in the second — and Olympia never got closer.
“Joey’s just a great player overall,” Sipe said. “He knows how to score, he knows how to play defense. … He’s hard to guard a lot of times. He’s just had some good nights against us.”
Olympia trailed by 10 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and Bellarmine Prep’s lead hovered around that mark for the majority of the game, until Luke Kiley’s 3-pointer with 1:45 to play kicked off an 8-1 Bears run.
“I felt like in parts of the game we separated a little bit, but once we started pulling together, and everyone got hyped up and excited, the energy came around,” Sipe said.
It just wasn’t quite enough to silence the Lions.
“That was our emphasis, to keep our composure,” Salazar said. “They’re a good, solid team, well-coached. We knew it was going to be a battle here. It’s tough to win here.”
Christian Moore added 13 points for the Lions.
Casson Rouse led Olympia with 20 points. Sipe scored 13, and Lucas Bowser added 12. The Bears shot 14 of 36 (38.9 percent) from the field, compared with the Lions’ 21 of 34 (61.8).