Blasted by the best

TACOMA — Something big was about to happen.

Even though every inch of seating was filled in the Mt. Tahoma basketball gym last Wednesday, it was eerily quiet.

With eight minutes to go in warm ups Bremerton guard Zack Otis glimpsed the stands, sweat already beading on his forehead.

Hoops phenom Marvin Williams quickly eyed the clock after snapping a bounce-pass down the lane.

Expressionless and somewhat tense, the Knights kept their comments to themselves. Occasionally they peeked at their competition.

They knew Mt. Tahoma was ranked No. 2 in state. It’s what they talked about before and after the game. It was written in the way they kept their eyes on the floor — a strange show of respect.

And although the players and fans will probably remember the final score best — a Mt. Tahoma T-bird blowout, 83-53 — what happened in the first moments of the game secured Bremerton’s unfortunate fate that night.

With a minute off the clock, Mt. Tahoma ripped off the first bucket, a tip-in by 6-foot-6 Tyrell Curry.

But wait, Marvin Williams wanted to say hello, too.

He pulled up for a jumper a minute later, tacking Bremerton on the board.

However, the tide changed.

Williams rejected T-birds’ Anthony Tennyson, but the ref said he got a piece of the young player’s arm.

Tennyson went to the line and Williams raised his arms in amazement to Bremerton coach Casey Lindberg.

Assistant coach Roy Fletcher slammed the bench in frustration at the call.

A minute later, Williams was slapped with his second foul for pushing off.

Lindburg’s cheeks went red and he ran to the ref for some sort of clarification.

Two points and two fouls for Williams were not figures anyone from the Navy town could smile about.

Still, Bremerton hammered out baskets from Noah Garguile and Anthony Ragsdale to pull within a point, 12-13, but when Lindberg took out Williams the T-birds flew away with nine points, to lead the quarter 21-14.

“We just didn’t get back on defense at all. They transitioned us all night,” Lindberg steamed later. “That’s the thing that angers me the most because that’s a basic thing where your guards have to know to get back on defense.”

On a few defensive cave-ins, the second quarter was all Mt. Tahoma, who outscored the Knights 43-23 by halftime.

The third? Well, let’s just say coach Lindberg had a bone to pick at halftime, and the Knights came out like they actually wanted to win for the first time in the game.

They ripped off 13 unanswered points, but when Williams picked up his fourth foul and headed to the bench, Mt. Tahoma climbed back in.

Although the Knights’ 5-foot-8 guard Jacquan McWhorter ran with a lot of steam towards the basket, Mt. Tahoma guards Baree and Garry Ward sometimes slipped the ball out of his hands.

On the other hand, 5-foot-10 Bremerton senior Zack Otis scanned the floor like a bomber pilot. The senior, with six points on the night, was waiting for an opening, but with the T-bird’s tight zone defense, nothing appeared.

“(In the third quarter) we started to run our offense where we slowed things down and gave Marvin more room to really work on that outside shot. But we started getting away from that,” Otis said.

After a fourth quarter massacre, the Knights (2-1) ended up with a 30 point loss.

“Marvin went for 30 (points against us) as a sophomore, and I thought ‘what was Marvin going to do as a junior?,’” Mt. Tahoma second-year coach Owen Chambers said after the game. “When he’s on the floor, we have to do different things to take him off his rhythm. When he gets in a rhythm, he’s unstoppable.”

It was the first game) on the season for Mt. Tahoma (1-0, and they were raring to go out and prove themselves. Even when they pulled away in the end, they still ran fast breaks to hike up the score.

Dunking became the norm at one point.

Mt. Tahoma’s Baree Ward ended up with 25 points on the night, compared to Williams’ 20.

“I told my kids it doesn’t matter who you play, you have to play 32 minutes of good basketball. We played about seven . . . total,” Lindberg said. “Seven to eight minutes of good basketball is not going beat anybody. Especially Mt. Tahoma.”

Noah Garguile, who came down with some impressive rebounds and 13 points on the night, said his team was a little fearful before the game started.

“I wish we could play them again,” Garguile said. “They are the second- place team and I tried before the game to get the intensity up and some guys respond, some guys don’t.”

After the game, Lindberg said he just tried to keep his eyes on the big picture. He wanted to use a tough non-league game like this to prepare for Wednesday’s matchup with Bridge Division favorites South Kitsap.

“You just have to use it as a learning experience and chalk it up,” he said. “Our goal every year is to win the state championship, and now we know in the road to the state championship, somewhere along the line we’ll go through Mt. Tahoma. That’s the level we have to get to.”

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