For a quarter against Bellarmine on Feb. 6, Mount Tahoma was able to run its up-tempo style and stay fairly close to the league's top team. The Lions' defense then quickly settled down, shutting down the Thunderbirds the rest of the way as Bellarmine cruised to a 61-23 win to claim at least a share of the Narrows 4A title.
"It's our fourth consecutive league title, so that's pretty special," said Bellarmine head coach Kevin Meines. "That hasn't been done in quite a while. It's a testament to these kids' effort, and not just this year."
Nakaira Petty got the Lions started with two quick baskets inside, and Nhyze Primas collected two steals that Jazzlynn Brewster turned into layups – the second putting the Lions up 16-8 with a minute remaining in the first quarter. Ashley Keys kept the Thunderbirds close with a couple of short jumpers, but the Lions held an 18-10 lead at the end of the first.
"I think we just came out and played tough. We kind of got down after a while, but we picked it back up," said Brewster, who led the Lions with 12 points and 11 rebounds. "We were just there for each other tonight and it really helped."
Jasmyne Holmes drained a three-pointer to start the second and reserve forward Claire Smith battled for three baskets inside as the Lions went on an 18-3 run and outscored the Thunderbirds 22-7 in the quarter.
"We forced them into a lot of bad shots, they were getting frustrated, and that's what we want to do defensively," Meines said.
The Lions continued the defensive pressure into the third quarter, forcing countless contested shots and shutting out the Thunderbirds 7-0 in the period to take a commanding 47-17 lead.
Ionna Price had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Lions, Petty finished with 10 points and eight rebounds and Sydney Swofford chipped in with nine points. Keys led the Thunderbirds with eight points and added seven rebounds, while Rejie Wright had four points and a team-high nine rebounds.
The Lions faced a road trip to Central Kitsap on Feb. 8 with a chance to claim the one-seed to district play, with games beginning on Feb. 15.
"The kids know that next week it's going to be a different ballgame, all the teams are going to be a lot better and we're going to have to bring the same intensity, if not more," Meines said.
"Any given Sunday," Brewster added. "Anything could happen, so we just come out, keep our heads high and play hard – play Bellarmine basketball."