OLYMPIA — As close as the Olympia Bears got to a signature victory over 4A Narrows League-leading Bellarmine Prep, their youth prevented them from getting into the win column, said first-year coach Tina Washington.
The final score of a 58-41 loss to the Lions Friday night at Chick Rockey gymnasium doesn’t tell the full story of the walking-wounded Bears’ comeback. A 15-point second-half deficit was cut to four inside five minutes to go, only to see a player who dominated all night – Bellarmine’s 6-foot-5 junior center Claire Martin – take over down the stretch just as the Bears’ shooting went ice cold.
“We panicked,” Washington said. “We have to learn how to finish; it’s getting better.”
Olympia knew it would be a challenge before the tip-off. They were without sharp-shooting sophomore guard and leading scorer Jenna Randich for a second straight game. Randich, sporting a walking boot on her right leg, has what Washington called a “wear-and-tear” strain on her lower leg, and noted a timetable for her return isn’t clear.
With Randich out, Olympia’s offense struggled at times against a much larger Lions squad, and opportunities – especially late with a single-digit deficit – were squandered with missed shots from close range.
Martin, a member of the Lions volleyball team that captured its second straight 4A state title last fall, was a menace on both ends of the floor; she nearly had a double-double at halftime (8 points, 9 rebounds) with her team leading 31-18.
But a turning point for Olympia – getting as close as 45-41 with 4:18 to go after a 7-of-21 shooting performance in the first half – came from junior Laura Snodgrass. She made all had five of her field goals in the second half, including a turnaround jumper in the lane over Martin that left the Bears trailing by four.
However, the bucket proved to be Olympia’s final points. Bellarmine ended the game on a 13-0 run – with eight points coming from Martin, who finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds, four blocked shots and two steals. Sophomore Jayana Ervin had a game-high 20 points to lead all scorers.
Snodgrass led the Bears, playing in their first home game since Dec. 11, with 12 points, followed by eight from sister Sarah, and six from Mackenzie Cooper.
“This tested us,” Washington said. “It’s a good building block, and we did exactly what we asked them to do.”Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com theolympian.com/ south-sound-sports-blog @megwochnick