OLYMPIA — There was more on the minds of the Olympia Bears than simply playing a basketball game.
The Bears’ focus and emotions during Friday’s 4A Narrows League boys game with league co-leader Bellarmine was shifted toward Todd McDougall. A standing room-only crowd packed Chick Rockey Gymnasium in support of “Light Blue-out Night” for McDougall, an English teacher and baseball coach who was diagnosed with malignant brain tumor last month.
The Bears desperately wanted to win for McDougall, and in spite it being a two- to three-possession game for most of the night, Bellarmine pulled away in the final two minutes for a 43-33 victory over Olympia.
The loss is the Bears’ third straight and drops them into fifth place at 2-3 in Narrows play and 8-3 overall. They are a half-game behind Central Kitsap, the Bears’ opponent Wednesday, for fourth place.
Fans donned the specialized light blue McDougall T-shirts and a brief ceremony that took place between the first and second quarters. Football coach Bill Beattie read a statement prepared by the family, thanking community members their outpouring of support. Although McDougall himself was not in attendance, members of his family were, including his three children – 11-year-old daughter Marlee and 9-year-old twin sons Andrew and Dylan.
Senior Michael Champlin, who finished with nine points, called the game “extra special.”
“We were all out here for him,” Champlin said. “He’s going through a lot right now, and we all know him and care about him.”
Champlin and fellow senior Michael Naipo finished with nine points apiece.
In a defensive battle with both teams playing zone defenses, Bellarmine had a 16-14 lead at halftime, and then limited Olympia to one field goal in the third quarter until Brendan Leonard’s 3-pointer inside 2 minutes and a buzzer-beating 3-point play pulled the Bears back to 26-22 heading into the fourth quarter.
Bellarmine (5-7 overall, 4-1 league) relied heavily on its outside shooting, led by Isaiah Flynn’s game-high 12 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Sefo Liufau had 11 points, and Gonzaga signee Lucas Meikle was held to one field goal and seven points.
Leading 29-26 following a bucket inside by Champlin, the Lions went on a 6-1 run to bump its lead to 36-27 after Mar’kese Jackson’s lay-in with 1:44 left in the game.
The 33 points by Olympia is a season low.
Coach Luke Salme called the loss “brutal.”
“They were extremely disciplined and got the shot that they wanted as long as it took,” Salme said. “We were tentative and timid, and a chunk of that is we haven’t shot the ball well in the past four games.”
“I can see a team with three league losses in the thick of things at the end of the year.”Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com theolympian.com/southsoundsports @MegWochnick