By the time the Olympia girls basketball team figured out how to defend Sarah Hartwell it was already too late.
Hartwell dominated the first half, scoring 14 of her 20 points, then got her teammates involved in the second half, leading visiting Bellarmine Prep to a convincing 55-38 victory over the Bears in Narrows League 4A action on Wednesday.
“She’s the engine that makes that team go,” said Olympia coach Rod Tripp about the Lions’ 5-foot-10 guard. “The key is preventing her from getting to the basket, and we just aren’t athletic enough to stop her. But I can’t think of too many teams in the state that are athletic enough to slow her down. There’s a reason she’s going to Xavier.”
Bellarmine (14-2 overall), behind Hartwell’s stellar play, improve to 10-0 atop the league standings with four regular-season games remaining.
Olympia dropped to 7-8 overall and 5-5 in league, tying the Bears for fourth place.
“The top four teams in our league advance to the postseason,” Tripp said. “That’s our focus. If we win out, we will have a chance at taking the third slot. So it’s all right in front of us, and the team knows that.”
Tayler Fettig paced the Bears with 13 points, while teammate Kara Sherman added eight points.
Hartwell sparked first-half runs of 7-0 and 12-0 to help push the Lions to a comfortable 29-17 halftime advantage.
Olympia crept to 13-12 on a Sherman field goal with 5 minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the first half, but Bellarmine, which has won eight consecutive games and has not lost to a Washington state high school this season, responded by scoring the next 12 points.
“That was all Hartwell. She took over the game,” Tripp said. “She does a great job of knowing when she needs to score.”
A second 12-0 run by the Lions came early in the third quarter, capped by a Hartwell bucket, pushing Bellarmine’s lead to 43-21 with 1:45 to play in the quarter.
“We did a better job in the second half defending her, switching it up to a zone and drawing a couple charges on her when she drove the lane, but we were just too far out of it,” Hartwell said.
The Lions also started sinking 3-pointers, getting a pair of 3s from Grace Beardemphl and Jazzmyne Holmes to blow the game open.
“It’s been frustrating during some of these losses because we’ve won the turnover and rebounding battles but have come up short on the scoreboard,” Tripp said. “This team has done a nice job all season rebounding from losses. We’ll be ready for Central Kitsap on Friday.”
Olympia made 16 of 50 shots from the field (32 percent) and turned the ball over just 14 times with only three second-half turnovers.
The Bears also got six points each from both Tessa Briggs and Molly Spiller.