Oly boys ousted by Bremerton in fourth

Perhaps Bremerton’s 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 Bremerton past the Trojans at Olympic High School Tuesday, 61-48.

With the win, Bremerton 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 Bremerton’s 58-50 home-win against Oly 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 Oly had more turnovers than field goals.

Bremerton (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 Oly 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 Oly 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.”

Oly 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.

“There was no screaming and yelling in the locker room, none of that,” said Huff, adding he was pleased with his team’s effort despite being shorthanded. “For three quarters, that was a great high school basketball game. Our guys hung in there.”

The regular season concludes Feb. 17 — Oly has four games remaining — and the league tournament begins shortly thereafter. Oly is a lock for the third 3A seed, meaning the Knights and Trojans will square off to open the tournament.

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