It was a showdown between, arguably, the top two players this season in the Class 4A Narrows League.
Bellarmine Prep’s Malachi Flynn and Yelm’s Christian Davis both made claims to the throne with their play, leading one to label the individual matchup between the two senior guards a push.
The clash between the opposing frontcourts, however, was quite the opposite. It was more of a pushover. One that heavily swayed in the Lions’ favor.
Christian Moore spearheaded Bellarmine’s dominating paint play with 18 points, Joey Bodoia added 16 points — with many coming down low — and the visiting Lions knocked off the Tornados, 74-49, in boys basketball Wednesday night.
“We knew coming in our biggest weakness was our rebounding,” Yelm coach Jordan Barnes said. “We have been outrebounded on average by 11 boards a game this season. We’re undersized, but that’s too many possessions to give up. The difference was (Bellarmine’s) bigs tonight.”
Flynn, who was called for two quick fouls, but never left the court until the outcome was well decided, needed only seven field-goal attempts to post 17 points. He made four baskets and went 7 for 8 from the free-throw line, and added eight rebounds, seven steals and four assists to help the Lions (8-3 overall, 4-0 league).
Davis scored a game-high 22 points for the Tornados (7-6, 3-3), but didn’t heat up until the fourth quarter, when he scored 12 points. Davis finished 8 of 21 from the field and hauled down seven rebounds.
“Christian is an exceptional shooter,” Barnes said. “It just wasn’t there that first half for him.”
The biggest difference was the play of Moore and his fellow Bellarmine forwards, who excelled at grabbing offensive rebounds while limiting Yelm shooters to just one look most of the game.
“A lot of times tonight, if we didn’t make (the shot), that was going to be the only look we’d have on that possession,” Barnes said. “It’s tough to win when you play like that.”
Flynn was whistled for his second foul with a minute remaining in the first quarter, but remained on the court for the rest of the half and helped the Lions to a 29-17 lead at the break.
“I thought we had a great game plan coming in,” Barnes said. “We wanted to go right at (Flynn) and try to get him in foul trouble early on, and we did that. We just weren’t able to get him to pick up that third early foul.”
Failure to secure defensive rebounds proved to be an issue for the Tornados from the start.
Moore, Bodoia and Isaac Wojtanowicz, who finished with 11 points, controlled the paint for Bellarmine and came away with numerous putbacks, powering the Lions to a lead they never surrendered.
Chad Davis and Jacob McCown scored seven and six points, respectively, for the Tornados.
The two teams will meet again Feb. 2 in Tacoma.
Bellarmine Prep 74, Yelm 49
Bellarmine Prep 14 15 18 27 - 74
Yelm 8 9 14 1 8
BP: Wotjanowicz 11, Bodoia 16, Moore 18, Lewis 2, Flynn 17, Gray 8, Elzie 2.
Y: Chr. Davis 22, Lawton 4, Pearson 4, Perez 3, Cha. Davis 7, McCown 6.