OLYMPIA - On nights when his team’s shooting isn't at its best, Olympia coach Luke Salme knows he can rely on the Bears' defense.
This was one of those nights.
Pressure defense was the difference for the 4A Narrows League-leading Bears, who held visiting Gig Harbor to 27 percent shooting in a 51-41 boys basketball victory Friday night at Olympia High School.
“If you don’t make shots against them (Gig Harbor), you better battle defensively to pull out a win,” Salme said. “Fortunately, we did it at that end well enough to win.”
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Alex Weber-Brader scored a game-high 23 points and pulled down eight rebounds for Olympia, which improved to 5-0 in league play and 10-1 overall.
The Bears got help on the perimeter from senior Marcus Raschkow, who nailed all four of his first-half 3-point attempts and finished with 15 points.
Troy Castle led the Tides (5-5, 2-3) with 16 points, and Sam Medek made four 3-pointers for 12 points.
Gig Harbor was missing two starters, including 6-foot-7 senior Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The University of Washington football recruit is in San Antonio for today’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl, a prestigious high school football all-star game.
Taking advantage of Seferian-Jenkins’ absence, the Bears were able to pound the ball inside the paint. Twelve of Olympia’s 28 first-half points came inside, with the 6-foot-5 Weber-Brader earning eight of those 12 points.
Olympia took a 28-18 lead into halftime after holding Gig Harbor without a field goal in the second quarter. The score was 16-16 after the first quarter, but the Tides got only one free throw apiece from Castle and Cyrus Ward in the second quarter to fall behind.
In the second half, Olympia’s shooting cooled off. The Bears hit just six field goals in the half and finished the game shooting 38 percent (16 of 42).
What was a 10-point lead at halftime was down to five, 31-26, with 2 minutes, 3 seconds left in the third quarter after a baseline jumper by Castle.
“We weren’t swinging the ball or working the ball around,” said Raschkow, who had three of the seven first-quarter 3-pointers by both teams. “We were rushing on offense. I thought we played good on defense. We helped each other out and played good ‘D’ overall.”
Olympia responded after Gig Harbor closed the gap, and over a 61/2-minute span, the Bears got the lead back to double digits, 42-30, with 2:56 left in the game on Jamey Smith’s only field goal of the game.
“The important thing is we got a league win,” Salme said. “That’s the most important thing.”
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com