Last year, Bellarmine Prep’s boys basketball season ended with a crushing loss to Union in the regional round of the 4A state basketball tournament.
On Saturday, the Lions found themselves in familiar territory, needing to beat Kamiak in a regional game to advance to the Tacoma Dome, or see their season come to an end. It took a lot of resolve, but this time the Lions got it done, winning 79-68.
“(We’re) very excited,” Bellarmine Prep coach Bernie Salazar said. “It’s a dream come true for us, and the kids. It’s really, really hard to get to this point. I’m really proud of the boys. Kamiak is a good solid, strong team, and it was a great game.”
The Knights led for much of the first half, thanks to the sharpshooting of senior Christian Clauson and junior Carson Tuttle, who combined for seven 3-pointers in the first two quarters. Despite their efforts, the Lions went on a run late in the second quarter and tied the game at 34-34 at halftime thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by senior Joey Bodoia.
Kamiak regained the lead on another Clauson 3-pointer to open the third and led for most of the quarter, but Bellarmine Prep went on an 11-0 run that spanned the final two minutes of the third quarter and first minute of the fourth quarter to take a seven-point lead. Kamiak answered with an 8-0 run of its own, but a 3-pointer by freshman Jaylen Scott gave the Lions the lead for good.
“They have two guys that can really shoot the ball,” Salazar said. “We just said, ‘We’re going to keep our composure and keep our belief and work hard,’ and good things would happen, and they did.”
Scott finished with four 3-pointers and 17 points for the Lions, but he wasn’t the only underclassman to perform well. Sophomore guard Charles Elzie added 14 points.
“They’re good players,” Salazar said. “They’re young, but they’re good basketball players and they’re only going to get better, and they’re great kids, which is the best part.”
Bodoia led five Bellarmine players in double figures, finishing with 21 points. He led the way as he has many times this season, but was excited to see the two youngest players on the team step up.
“It’s really fun to see them play well like that,” Bodoia said. “They’re really good players and I’m just glad to see them play with such confidence in a big game like this.”
Last year’s regional loss has been on Bodoia’s mind all season, but Saturday’s should help erase a lot of the heartache that came from that loss.”
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the Tacoma Dome, and now it’s finally coming true,” Bodoia said. “I just couldn’t be happier.”
Bellarmine Prep: Charles Elzie 14, Joey Bodoia 21, Jaylen Scott 17, Christian Moore 13, Garrett Horner 12, Toby Okoye 2.
Kamiak: Carson Tuttle 29, Christian Clauson 15, Travis Rucker 3, Landon Overturf 4, Patrick Olson 7, Keller Whitney 2, Daniel Sharpe 6, Swell Ewing 2.