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Knights fly to another victory
Perhaps Josh Koets wanted the Olympic Trojans to remember his final game in their home gym.
The senior forward scored a game-high 24 points, two shy of his season high, to lead the Knights past Olympic on the road Tuesday, 61-48.
With the win, BHS clinched the No. 2 3A seed for the 3A/2A Olympic League tournament, which determines seeding for sub-districts, and swept the regular-season series against the Trojans (7-9 overall, 4-8 league).
“It’s a good team victory,” said Koets, who scored 17 points in BHS’ 58-50 home-win against Olympic Jan. 12. “Coming into (Olympic) is always hard, the crowd’s always into it.”
There was no reason not to be into it, at least for three quarters, as the teams seesawed to a 43-43 tie entering the fourth quarter.
That’s when the Knights, who had shuffled between a man and zone-press defense, clamped down to limit the Trojans to five points over the final eight minutes, creating turnovers with pressure and converting the turnovers into points.
“The one thing you have to do with Olympic is keep the ball out of Larry Dixon’s hands because he’s the guy who makes them tick,” BHS coach Casey Lindberg said of the press. “We had to tweak it a bit so Larry couldn’t get the ball ... our kids did a nice job doing that.”
Dixon finished with 13 points, four rebounds and six assists, but was shut down in the fourth quarter when Olympic had more turnovers than field goals.
BHS (9-8, 8-5) opened the quarter with a 10-2 run to build a 53-45 lead at the 5:30 mark. The Trojans, facing the press, then turned the ball over on consecutive possessions, resulting in two Knight buckets, a 57-45 spread and a lead too large for Olympic to overcome.
“The press is their offense; that’s exactly what they teach and preach, it’s exactly what they were able to do tonight,” said Olympic coach Devin Huff, who was an assistant on Lindberg’s staff for six years. “He has the athletes to do that, it’s a pretty nice luxury.”
Ten Knights saw playing time, eight of whom scored, and Lindberg did what he’s done all season: substitute frequently to keep his players fresh and the press hot.
“They definitely ratcheted up the pressure a little bit,” Huff said. “The whole key is how you handle their press. If you don’t handle it well, get ready for a long night.”
Olympic did handle the press in the first half and was able to execute its half-court offense as Elliot Thorsen, who finished with a team-high 14 points, hit three 3-pointers to give the Trojans a 29-28 halftime advantage. Neither team led by more than five points in the third quarter.
“This was one of those games where the nerves lasted until the fourth quarter,” Koets said. “We started to realize we didn’t need to force anything up, and we figured out some weaknesses in their game.”
Andre Coleman finished with 10 points, Jarrell Flora eight and J’Tonn Dale seven to give BHS some balance behind Koets. Dale also pulled in seven rebounds and Flora five.
“I figured if we were going to go anywhere we’d need to play as a team and I think this was the best example of that,” Koets said. “If anybody doubted it, you can’t really doubt it anymore, as far as us playing as a team.”
Not only have the Knights clinch the No. 2 seed — and a home game — for the 3A portion of the 3A/2A Olympic League tournament, but they also rebounded from a 69-68 loss against North Mason (13-3, 10-2) Jan. 30, their most recent game.
“We had that game in the palm of our hand and we gave it away,” Lindberg said of the loss, which was the team’s second straight one after a five-game win streak.
The regular season concludes Feb. 17 — BHS has three games remaining, all at home — and the league tournament begins shortly thereafter. Olympic is a lock for the third 3A seed, meaning the Knights and Trojans will square off to open the tournament.
“One thing I told our kids was we needed to match, or exceed, their intensity,” Lindberg said. “Devin’s kids are always going to play hard.”
The Knights host Klahowya at 7 p.m. tonight, Port Townsend Feb. 12 — when the school will retire Marvin Williams’ jersey — and Kingston Feb. 17.
Between now and the season finale against Kingston, Lindberg said he hopes to see the entire team — as opposed to a select few players — elevate its game.
“I’m just looking for some consistent play out of some people,” Lindberg said. “Unfortunately, I’m not getting it out of everybody.”
For now, however, both Lindberg and the team are pleased to have beaten Olympic on the road and snap the two-game skid.
“It’s beautiful to come in here with their crowd yelling at you and come out with a win,” Koets said.
“I’m happy for our kids ... It’s always nice to come out to Olympic and get a win. It’s not very easy,” Lindberg added.