Puyallup High School has 11 guards on its varsity boys basketball roster.
That personnel makeup does not lend to consistent scoring, so coach Scott Campbell knows his Vikings have to be smart, efficient, tough — and make a few tough shots.
They did that Tuesday in upending ninth-ranked Lincoln, 64-62, in overtime in the opening round of the Bellarmine Prep Christmas Classic in Tacoma.
Senior point guard Jaden Vollmen sank a wild 3-pointer at the end of regulation for Puyallup to send the game into overtime, and Lincoln had a chance to tie the game late in the extra session, but Brandon Cotton missed a free throw with 1.7 seconds to go.
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“I am really proud of our toughness and how we hung in there,” Campbell said. “This group has played together for a lot of years. They are really close, and that showed up tonight.”
The Vikings deserved all the credit. They trailed 54-47 with 2 minutes, 45 seconds remaining after Lincoln scored baskets on six of seven possessions.
Then the final-minute fireworks began, starting with Tony Gutierrez’s 3-pointer from the right corner that tied it at 54-54 at the 1:04 mark.
Trevion Brown answered with a nifty move down the left side of the lane for a bucket. He was fouled with 40.1 seconds remaining, and converted the 3-point play to hand the Abes a 57-54 lead.
Vollmen’s improbable 3-pointer was the game’s biggest moment.
Trapped near the left side, and with the shot clock about to expire, Vollmen suddenly lost his balance, fell backward and got off a near no-look shot that went in with four seconds to go.
“I didn’t even see (the basket),” Vollmen said.
Lincoln scored on its first three possessions of overtime to take a 62-59 lead. But Gutierrez tied it one final time with a 3-pointer from the left corner — and the Vikings took a 64-62 advantage on Brooks Balmer’s two free throws with 53.9 seconds to go.
Trailing by that score, the Abes forced a backcourt turnover, and Cotton was fouled on an offensive rebound. But he missed the first free throw in a one-and-one situation.
Lincoln has now blown big leads in the fourth quarter in four of their seven games already this season, including in losses to Cleveland and now Puyallup.
“It’s a little bit of everything, and it is very frustrating because it is like a trend now, and we are kind of stuck in it, and it has become a mental thing,” Abes coach Aubrey Shelton said.
“Coaching-wise, we made a ton of mistakes tonight. But it is still early, and we have to be positive, trust the process and that we will bounce back.”
At Bellarmine Prep 82, Lakes 44: Standout Malachi Flynn and the Lions will get the chance to defend their tournament title Wednesday.
Flynn paced host Bellarmine Prep with 23 points, shooting 8 of 18 from the field. Joey Bodoia chipped in with 20, and the Lions will play Puyallup in the championship game.
“You never want to lose at home,” Flynn said. “To win this tournament, it would be a big thing for us.”
It was the ninth time in Bellarmine Prep’s past 10 games that Flynn has scored 20 or more points.