Boys basketball: Olympia Bears can’t hang on to big lead

mwochnick@theolympian.comFebruary 5, 2014 

Malachi Flynn wasn’t looking to shoot a game-winning 3-pointer. He was simply seeking any opening to get a shot off.

“I was looking for whatever was open,” said the Bellarmine Prep sophomore guard, “and the 3 was open.”

It was indeed, and Flynn cashed in, draining his 3-pointer from the wing with 1.1 seconds remaining.

His basket capped a remarkable late-game comeback and gave the Lions a 56-55 victory over the host Olympia High Bears on Tuesday night in 4A Narrows League boys basketball.

Flynn’s winning basket was part of a 15-2 Bellarmine run in the final two-plus minutes.

Olympia’s Mitch Fettig caught a long pass and got off a 20-foot desperation shot that hit the iron as time expired.

With 2:09 remaining, Olympia’s lead was 53-41 after Ben Bishop’s two free throws. Bellarmine had played catch-up for most of the game, trailing by double digits as early as the first quarter.

But down 12 late in the fourth quarter, Flynn said his team just stuck to the game plan.

“And it worked out,” he said.

It started with a pair of Flynn free throws that cut the deficit to 53-43, and later the Lions’ full-court pressure led to a pair of steals and resulting buckets in a 12-second span. All of a sudden, it was 53-51.

Olympia was 2-for-4 at the free-throw line in the final 26.4 seconds and still held a 55-53 lead with 18.7 seconds go — plenty of time for Bellarmine’s final shot, as Flynn caught the pass with 5 seconds to go and nailed the jumper.

Flynn had 16 of his team-high 18 points in the second half, and Will Wolf had 17 for the Lions.

With a win Thursday over Yelm, Bellarmine (10-9 overall, 6-5 4A Narrows) can climb to as high as second place in the league standings.

The loss dashes Olympia’s playoff hopes; Thursday’s game at Central Kitsap will be the finale for the Bears (11-8, 4-7).

It looked as if the Bears were well on their way to a much-needed win to keep playoff hopes alive.

They shot 67 percent from the field in the first half (14-for-21) for a 35-22 halftime lead, had several double-digit leads in the fourth quarter, and a 13-point bulge with 2:48 left.

Khalil Matheney had a game-high 20 points, including 11 of Olympia’s 19 first-quarter points on 4-of-5 shooting.

“In 12 years of coaching and 10 years of playing, I’ve never felt like this in my life. I’m crushed for the kids,” Olympia coach Luke Salme said.

“They’ve done everything we’ve asked and they’re playing extremely well … and for it to end like that, the heartache can’t be any worse for an athlete to have it end like that.”

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 mwochnick@theolympian.com theolympian.com/southsoundsports @MegWochnick

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