Luke Salme was in his third season as the coach when the Olympia High School Bears clinched the 4A Narrows League boys basketball title in 2010-11.
He knows it isn’t the easiest task, especially when you need just one win to close it out.
“It is way harder than at the other end trying to sneak into (the playoffs),” Salme said. “What do we have to lose? We just want to live to play another day.”
The Bears, indeed, will live to see another day as they try to chase down one of the league’s last playoff spots. They spoiled Stadium’s bid to win the league
title outright with a 42-39 victory Wednesday night in Tacoma.
Stadium (12-5, 8-2) still has two more chances, starting with a home game Friday against Yelm, then closing out the regular season at home a week later against South Kitsap.
The Bears (10-7, 4-5) still reside in a logjam with the rest of the 4A Narrows cast. They are at South Kitsap on Friday, then return Wednesday for a home game against Bellarmine Prep.
“There is no point looking at the rest of the Narrows schedule and trying to figure out who can beat who,” Salme said. “You literally have no idea.”
Senior Mitch Fettig was the catalyst Wednesday — 21 points on 10-for-14 shooting and 11 rebounds — as the Bears built a 10-point lead in the third quarter.
Khalil Matheney buried his fourth 3-pointer of the game with 6 minutes, 48 seconds remaining, giving Olympia a 40-31 lead.
But it would be the Bears’ final field goal of the game.
In fact, Olympia went scoreless for the next 6:16.
Stadium scored the next eight points, capped by Lucious Brown’s layup, to cut it to 40-39 with 1:44 to go.
Brown had a chance to tie the score, but missed the free throw.
On Stadium’s next trip, the Tigers were whistled for an illegal pick, turning the ball over.
After Olympia’s Max Fortier was fouled driving across the 3-point arc, he calmly made two free throws with 31.9 seconds remaining to push the lead to 42-39.
Stadium had three chances to tie in the final 27 seconds, but 3-pointers by Blake Budzisz and Brown rimmed out.
“It was tough. Coach (Salme) knew they would come out at halftime and change their game,” Fettig said. “We knew we would be in for a battle. We stayed strong today.”
Brown finished with 14 points. Bobby Moorehead added 12 for the Tigers, who never led in the game.
“We’ve done that lately (get down big early) the last couple games. I don’t know where it’s coming from, and we have to figure that out,” Stadium coach Doug Cocke’ said. “But at the same time, give them credit; they played their eyeballs out.”Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 firstname.lastname@example.org