The long rebound bounced right to a quick-thinking Hunter Sipe, who simply continued the ball’s momentum with a touch pass to a streaking Eddie Beusch.
Beusch turned on the jets, reeled in the pass and converted the layup a beat before the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter and send the student section into a frenzy.
The heady play proved to be far more valuable than the mere two points it registered on the scoreboard, as it provided the spark the Olympia boys basketball team needed.
Liam Murphy scored 15 of his team-high 17 points in the second half, David Woodward added 14 points and the Bears used an impressive fourth quarter run to defeat visiting Todd Beamer, 70-50, in the opening round of the 4A West Central District 3 tournament on Wednesday.
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Olympia, the second seed out of the 4A Narrows League, outscored the Titans 30-5 during a second-half run highlighted by Beusch’s buzzer-beating basket to turn a game that, nearing the end of the third quarter, appeared to be heading towards a dramatic finish into a rout.
“Halftime we tried to make a few adjustments,” Olympia coach Jack Kiley said. “This was the first time these guys have been in this type of environment. I think that might have played a little bit into that, but they stayed positive. The second half we got a couple buckets, we kept getting paint touches and getting to the basket, and then against their zone we finally got a couple quality shots and that really helped us open that big run.”
Brett Thompson scored 10 points, while Sipe added eight for the Bears (18-3), who advance to play Kentwood at Auburn Mountainview High School on Thursday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:45.
A second-round victory will place Olympia into the regional round of the state tournament.
A 3-pointer late in the third quarter from Amari McLemore reclaimed the lead at 41-40 for the Titans (15-8). An avalanche of points by the Bears soon followed with Murphy and Woodward doing the most damage.
Murphy ignited an 18-0 run by Olympia on his lone 3-pointer of the contest with 4 1/2 minutes to play.
Beusch ended it by sinking a pair of free throws that ballooned the Bears’ lead to 70-46 with 1:40 remaining in the game.
“We did a much better job on both ends in the second half,” Kiley said. “They missed some shots and we got into a rhythm offensively. We were getting some shots and rebounds and that allowed us to get out and run a little bit.”
Beamer guards Gio Jackson and Stef’fun Singleton proved to be a tough matchup for the Bears early on as the Titans backcourt routinely found success penetrating the lane in the first half, combining to score 21 points and helping Beamer to a 31-26 lead at the intermission.
The Bears were held scoreless for the opening four minutes of the second quarter as they saw their slim two-point cushion after the first quarter quickly erased.
Singleton, who struck for 14 points in the opening two frames, tipped in his own miss to end the second quarter to give the Titans a five-point advantage at the break.
Murphy and Woodward came out gunning in the second, and by the time the final horn sounded the duo had combined to outscore Beamer in the second half, 27-19.
Jackson paced the Titans with a game-high 18 points.
At Auburn Riverside 59, North Thurston 49: After carrying a two-point advantage into the locker room, the Rams watched the Ravens slip away in the second half in the first round of the 3A West Central/Southwest bidistrict tournament.
North Thurston’s defense couldn’t hold up, and its offense committed turnovers at critical moments as the Ravens put up a 20-point fourth quarter.
Wes Reynolds had a game-high 18 points for the Rams in the loss.
North Thurston (10-11) plays Columbia River (15-6) in a loser-out game at 7:45 p.m. Friday at Franklin Pierce High School.
At Rainier 44, Pe Ell 43: The Mountaineers (7-15) edged the Trojans to stay alive in the 2B Southwest District 4 tournament at Rochester High School.
They’ll play a loser-out game against the loser of Life Christian Academy at Napavine at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 15.
At Tumwater 53, Ridgefield 27: The T-Birds held the Spudders to seven points in the first half — and three field goals — to gain entrance into the first round of the 2A Southwest District 4 tournament.
Sierra Snyder had a game-high 21 points for Tumwater.
Tumwater (7-13) plays Mark Morris (12-7) at 7 p.m. Friday at Mark Morris High School.
Lauren Smith, Chris Wells, TJ Cotterill and Ryan Chambers contributed to this report
Todd Beamer 15 16 10 9_50
Olympia 17 9 18 26_70
TB: Jackson 18, Murray 11, McLemore 8, Kennedy 2, Singleton 7, Frazier 2, Schimmelfenning 2
O: Woodward 14, Sipe 8, Effland 3, Miller 2, Kiley 5, Murphy 17, Shafer 4, Thompson 10, Beusch 6
North Thurston 13 12 10 14_49
Auburn Riverside 14 9 16 20_59
NT: Sibley 10, A. Stone 5, Christian 10, Reynolds 18, Sroor 6
AR: Beard 8, Holllingsworth 2, Kirby 3, Gulchuk 5, Taylor 12, Bethea 16, Shaw 13
Ridgefield 4 3 12 8_27
Tumwater 7 11 15 20_
R: S. Jenkins 6, Murphy 6, Greenwald 3, Kaia Oliver 7, Champman 2, Karli Oliver 3
T: Smith 8, Fields 2, Hare 5, Snyder 21, Bergquist 7, Carlson 2, Cunningham 3, Rodriguez 4, Jones 1