TACOMA – As expected, Alex Weber-Brader, Olympia’s all-time leading scorer, got his points Saturday in his last high school basketball game.
But, unexpectedly, so did Olympia’s role players.
With five Bears scoring in double figures, Olympia had plenty of offense to knock off Kentridge, 77-67, and place fourth at the Class 4A boys state basketball tournament in the Tacoma Dome.
“Yes, we have that superstar, but we also have other kids who can score,” Olympia coach Luke Salme said. “We weren’t just relying on Alex. Lots of guys stepped up today. That’s what made this season so special.”
Weber-Brader scored 18 of his game-high 31 points in the second half, helping the Bears take home a state trophy for the first time in 11 years.
But with Olympia’s go-to scorer sandwiched in double-teams much of the game, the Bears’ role players sank some big shots on the biggest stage of their young lives.
After Kentridge cut its deficit to 66-64 with 2:40 remaining, backup guard Caleb Slater coolly swished a 3-pointer from the corner that jump-started a decisive 9-0 run. During that stretch, Weber-Brader had one basket.
“Everyone stepped up. Everyone was hitting shots,” said Weber-Brader, who averaged 21 points this season and has accepted a basketball scholarship to Seattle Pacific. “Everyone was playing defense. This was our last game. We wanted to win.”
To help make that happen, Olympia’s Marcus Raschkow scored 12 points, Dominick Franks added 11 and Jamey Smith and Slater contributed 10 each.
Trailing 47-45 late in the third quarter, Raschkow sank back-to-back baskets, hitting a driving lay-in and a 3-pointer to tie the score at 50.
Then, early in the fourth quarter, Franks swished a 3-pointer to give the Bears a 53-52 lead. Later in the quarter, Franks swished another trey to extend Olympia’s lead to 62-56 with 5:02 to play.
“They were fearless,” Salme said. “When one guy starts making his shots, other guys start making theirs. It’s contagious.”
Franks, a junior forward, went 4-for-4 from the field, going 3-for-3 from 3-point range. The Bears were 9-for-22 from behind the 3-point arc.
“I was open, so I shot,” Franks said. “If they double Alex, I’ve got to shoot. It wasn’t like I was forcing shots.”
Kentridge’s Gary Bell, a senior guard who has accepted a basketball scholarship to Gonzaga, scored 28 points on 9-for-27 shooting. He was 4-for-10 from 3-point and Kentridge went 9-for-23.
“We live and die by the 3,” Bell said. “We were hitting them early.”
Six of Kentridge’s first 10 baskets were 3-pointers.
After Kentridge, coming off a 75-34 blowout win over Puyallup, cut the deficit to two with 2:40 to go, the Chargers scored one basket the rest of the way – a 3-pointer with 26 seconds left. Smith even blocked Bell’s lay-in during that stretch.
“We talked about facing adversity all season long,” Salme said. “I knew we’d never roll over against any team.”
In the first quarter, Kentridge (21-10) jumped out to a 10-5 lead. But the Bears answered with a 9-0 run to take a 14-10 lead on Weber-Brader’s coast-to-coast drive.
With 22 seconds to play in the second quarter, Raschkow sank a 3-pointer to put the Bears ahead 33-32 at halftime.
“If we were sitting in the stands, we would have enjoyed it,” Salme said. “It was counterpunch for counterpunch. It was two great teams going at it.”
Olympia (25-4) tied a school record for most wins in a season set by the 1998 team.
“At the start of the season, a lot of people didn’t think we had much of a chance,” Weber-Brader said. “But we thought we did. Our goal was to get to the Tacoma Dome.”