The Puyallup and Sumner boys basketball teams enjoyed fruitful winter breaks as both programs built some positive momentum heading into the season’s second half.
Staying close to home this year, Puyallup (9-2, 3-1 SPSL South league) reached the finals of the Bellarmine Christmas Classic finals last week in a meeting with tournament host Bellarmine (8-3, 3-0 Narrows).
After winning 64-63 in overtime against Lincoln on Dec. 29, Puyallup had built momentum heading into the matchup with tenth-ranked Bellarmine. But Malachi Flynn’s game-high 31 points led the Lions to their second consecutive tournament championship.
“I think our pressure got to them later on (in the game), but when you’re playing from behind, you’re only going to get one or two cracks at the game to get control or the lead in the game,” Puyallup coach Scott Campbell said of his team’s near-comeback in the finals.
Jaden Vollmen led the Vikings’ attack with 21 points against Bellarmine, and the senior finished with a team-high 35 points during the two-day tournament. Devin Neff finished with 15 points in the championship game.
“Last night we were playing Lincoln and they were up big, (but) we kept on fighting and we were able to get the big win,” Vollmen said. “It just didn’t go our way this time, but that’s alright.”
Coming out of the break, the SPSL South looks to be open for Puyallup to claim one of the four spots heading into the postseason.
“In the end, it was people trying to hard (for Puyallup), and they just capitalized on our mistakes,” Neff said.
With Emerald Ridge (6-4, 4-0) and second-ranked Curtis (11-0, 4-0) the only teams ahead of Puyallup, the Vikings can stay the course and coast into the playoffs.
“I think this a great nonleague game — really the whole tournament, as Lincoln and Bellarmine were good nonleague teams to learn from,” Campbell said. “That was the whole purpose of playing in this tournament. Obviously you want to win every game, but I’m really proud of our guys as it’s a great learning experience for us.”
Puyallup begins the second half against rivals Emerald Ridge on Tuesday and Rogers (3-9, 1-3) on Friday.
Surf ‘N Slam
The Sumner boys basketball team played in a big tournament in San Diego over winter break, eventually getting crowned the champions of the Sun Division bracket.
Sumner (6-3, 1-3 3A SPSL) was able to overcome Central Bucks East (Pa.), 47-46, in the finals on Dec. 30 after defeating Life Christian (53-50) of Tacoma in the semifinals and Livermore (Calif.), 62-59, in the opening round of the tournament.
“It was fun and it was a good experience for the guys. They gained some valuable memories down there,” Sumner coach Brett McDaniel said.
Now with the second half of the season set to begin, Sumner can begin to make their climb up from sixth-place in league. But McDaniel and company are well aware of the mountain they have to climb once the second half kicks off Tuesday night.
“But to be honest, I don’t know how well this tourmament prepared our guys,” McDaniel said. “I think that our league is tougher than the teams we played down there. I don’t know whether it will have a positive effect or a negative one on whether we’re prepapared for our league play.”
Sumner will face Auburn (7-3, 2-2) on Tuesday and Enumclaw (4-6, 0-4) on Friday.