TACOMA - There would be no letdown.
Not with the no-quit Olympia Bears. Not with a state trophy still at stake.
A day after its offense went missing-in-action in a 15-point loss to Curtis, Olympia jumped out to first-quarter leads of 18-2 and 22-5 against an outhustled Jackson team, leading to a convincing 70-42 victory Friday morning in the boys 4A state basketball tournament in the Tacoma Dome.
“These guys are resilient,” Olympia coach Luke Salme said. “I knew they’d bounce back. And I knew they’d work hard defensively. That’s something we’ve done all year. Our defense fed our offense.”
And what an all-you-can-eat buffet it was for Alex Weber-Brader, Olympia’s 6-foot-5 senior forward and the school’s all-time leading scorer.
Weber-Brader scored 19 of his game-high 31 points in the first half. He scored 13 of his team’s first 22 points, helping the Bears take a 22-5 lead with less than a minute left in the first quarter.
“Quite frankly, they came out ready to play and we did not,” Jackson coach Steve Johnson said. “They came out with energy. They wanted that trophy more than we did.”
Olympia, at 24-4, can tie a school record for most wins in a season and place fourth in state today by beating Kentridge, a 75-34 winner against Puyallup on Friday. The game tips off today at 8 a.m.
“Our goal was to come out with energy,” said Weber-Brader, who went 13-for-24 from the field. “We didn’t want this to be our last game. We’re excited about going for fourth place.”
Olympia’s hustling, match-up zone defense made a good team look bad. The Bears held Jackson (22-4) under 60 points for the first time this season, forced 17 turnovers, and held the Timberwolves to a frosty 32 percent shooting (17-for-53).
Jackson, which scored more than 80 points nine times during the regular season, scored 10 points in the first and second quarters and trailed 44-20 at halftime.
“They came out in a match-up zone, and we didn’t come out with any energy,” Jackson all-state guard Brett Kingma said. “Give them credit. They wanted that trophy.”
Kingma, who averaged 30.8 points during the regular season and is headed to Oregon on a basketball scholarship, scored 24 points on 9-for-26 shooting. Kingma, attempting to get his team back into the game, was forced to shoot from 3-point range and went 4-for-17 from that distance. Jackson went 5-for-24 from behind the 3-point arc.
“That was such an amazing defensive effort by our guys,” Salme said. “We didn’t have much time to prepare for a high-scoring team like Jackson and against a prolific scorer like Brett. We talked about it on the bus ride home yesterday.”
Olympia got off to a dream start. The Bears shot 56 percent (17-for-30) in the first half to help open their 22-point halftime lead. Against Curtis, Olympia went 1 of 14 on 3-pointers and 6 of 19 on free throws.
Olympia’s backup guard Caleb Slater came off the bench to score 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting.
“That’s a coach’s dream to have your team come out so fired up and play so well on offense and defense,” Salme said.
Salme could hang the quick start on another factor – an early arrival. With a 9 a.m. tipoff, Salme and his players boarded the bus at Olympia High School at 7 a.m. He had his players jog inside the Tacoma Dome to loosen up before they could take the court for the allowed 20-minute shootaround.
Salme estimated his team arrived 30 minutes before Jackson arrived.
“Coach gave us bagels and orange juice on the bus,” Weber-Brader said. “We were ready to play.”