Rams season ends at district in overtime loss
By GERARDO BOLONG
TACOMA - Dalesky & Black Gymnasium on the Campus of Foss High School was the site of a game that featured more twists and turns than a good whodunit mystery before Bellarmine finally revealed itself as the winner in a 60-54 loser-out overtime victory of the 2018 boys 2A West Central/Southwest bi-district basketball tournament against Mt. Rainier on Fri., Feb. 9.
Garrett Horner's six free throw conversions inside of one minute left in the four minute overtime period closed out the final chapter for the Lions following a guns and blazes encounter that drained both teams. Mt. Rainier finished its season at 11-12. Bellarmine's next obstacle will be Kennedy Catholic at 6 p.m. on Mon., Feb. 12, at Wilson High School.
Entering the bonus quarter with action that featured see-saw competition after the teams tied at 48 in regulation play, the Lions (13-9) scored the first five points before Ricky Bell III sandwiched a pair of 3-balls around a Bellarmine free throw to leave the teams knotted together at 54 with 1:58 remaining in OT.
Forty-six seconds later, Charles Elsie made two free throws that set the Lion win into motion.
Mt. Rainier continued to get good looks at the hoop, but was unable to translate the looks into points.
With 12.5 second left, two Horner free throws sealed the deal for Bellarmine.
Chapter one leading to the overtime began with a trio of Bellarmine 3-point goals factoring into a 17-11 lead after one quarter.
The resurgent Rams charged back behind defensive stops and good offensive work from Kolten Lerwick, Wilkins Dolce, and Bell to tie the game at 17-all.
Then the teams exchanged points evenly until the Rams raced to the halftime break with a 26-24 edge.
Fists of fury defense triggered the MR offense to an extension of the lead to 39-31 on Yadel Hedego's inside the paint basket that ended the third quarter.
"The defense was busy on deflections and steals for lay ups," observed Horstman.
In good control of the game, the Ram offense hit the pause button.
Mt. Rainier's passing was continually stopped one pass away from success, enabling Bellarmine to surge within 39-38 before Bell's foul line jumper extended the Ram lead to 41-38.
As the quarter wound down, each team made plays that positioned them to win.
Bellarmine shot into a 45-41 control with 2:41 left, but Mt.Rainier's fast-paced, defense-first system triggered a furious rally.
Bell's steal and ensuing two free throws completed a 7-0 MR rally that pushed the Rams ahead, 48-45, with 3.8 seconds to go.
On the inbounds from back court, the Lions got the ball in before the next pass reached Elsie, who torched a stunning 3-point buzzer-beater for the overtime reward.
"I'm really proud of these guys," added Horstman. "Bell is always clutch. Our senior Adam Samuel didn't play a lot this season, but he was like an extension of the coaching staff. He helped create chemistry on and off the court. We couldn't have done it without him."
The strong emotions from the loss will be there, but a bright future looms ahead for the young Rams.
"We only had one player (Samuel) who played varsity basketball before this season," concluded Horstman. "They figured it out all year and never gave up. The boys were always open to coaching. The off-season together will be important in building chemistry together on and off the court. They'll hit the weight room, too."
Clutch playing Bell homed in with a game-high 23 points and received help from Yadel Hedego, who contributed 15.
Elsie also rose to the moment with 18 points for Bellarmine. Horner at 16 and Austin Ostrander at 10 each reached double-digit scoring.
Players for the Mt. Rainier district squad include Tayveonne Goldsmith, Amanuel Gebreziabher, Ricky Bell III, Wilkins Dolce, Justus Diaz, Kolten Lerwick, Navi Singh, Robert Wright, Michael Nelson, Adam Samuel, Yareli Hedego and Isaiah Fulmore.
Assisting head coach Horstman are Tremain Mack and Joshua Jacobs. Jenee James is the athletic director.