Of the 16 coaches gathered at Bellarmine Prep for this year’s version of Hoops on the Hill on June 7-9, you would probably find 16 different opinions of what each was looking for.
In the end, Dave Alwert’s Wilson Rams rode their tenacious 90 feet of defense to win the title over the host Lions by a score of 48-36 as the summer high school basketball tournament season kicks into high gear.
“We finally started to live up to our creed of high intensity defense and up-tempo offense from start to finish, and it resulted in a title for our team,” Alwert said of his team, which many expect to make a run to the Tacoma Dome next year in the state 3A tournament.
On the other end of the spectrum, Lincoln’s Aubrey Shelton was looking for moments of brilliance to go along with the anticipated mistakes from a young team that lost its top three players to graduation and transfers. But when all was said and done on Sunday afternoon, the third-place finish made Shelton very happy. “Our young guys really stepped up this weekend. Josiah Barsh, Cameron Collins and Samaj Booker will be big parts of our team this year, and they really played well.” The Abes claimed wins over Bethel, Peninsula and crosstown rival Stadium on the weekend.
One of the more interesting squads was Bellarmine Prep, as veteran coach Bernie Salazar’s team will rely heavily on his backcourt with the losses of both Sefo Liufau and Lucas Meikle. Carson Hollyoak, Marquise Jackson and talented sophomore Malachai Flynn will be heavily relied upon by Salazar to carry the bulk of the load this year. “They were great this weekend with wins over Emerald Ridge, Kentwood and Sumner,” Salazar said. “We’ll be better than most people think (next year).”
Coming off of their 4A state title last season, Curtis Vikings head coach Tim Kelly has to replace the entire starting five, which was lost to graduation. Convincing wins over both Foss and Lakes helped soothe the coach a little, but Kelly hopes the remaining concerns will sort themselves out over the summer and fall. “It was an incredible year last year, and I think these kids will be alright in a tough SPSL,” he said. “We’ll try to get them to understand our concepts this summer.”
Wilson, meanwhile, prepares for a much-anticipated season with a quickly maturing group. “These kids have finally bought into our system, and if they can maintain the intensity all year, it could be really special,” Alwert said. The Rams got wins over Clover Park, Kentridge, Puyallup, Curtis and Bellarmine Prep on the way to their title.
“We’re a very talented team, and coach Alwert has us playing at a very high level as we’ve become a well-rounded team,” said Wilson guard Ivy Smith.