The high school boys basketball season came to an end with two programs making historic runs at the state tournament. Olympia took home the third-place trophy at the 4A tourney, marking the highest state placing for the Bears in 24 years, while Tumwater claimed fourth place in the 2A classification, giving the Thunderbirds their best finish in 46 years.
Olympia (26-6) opened the 4A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome as the No. 11 seed, but the Bears quickly outperformed their ranking by advancing to the state semifinals before knocking off No. 3 Union, 57-48, in the placing round.
Andreas Engholm scored 15 points and Caden Roth added 12 to help Olympia, which shot a blistering 65% (13 of 20) from the field in the first half, put away the Titans.
The third-place finish caps a remarkable three-year run for the Bears, who placed fourth at state in 2020 and won the South Puget Sound League tournament in 2021 during a season when the state tournament was cancelled.
The Bears kicked off their state playoff run by defeating No. 6 Mariner, 50-41, in the first round, getting 18 points and 11 rebounds from Engholm and 10 points from fellow junior Parker Gerrits. It was the first of three wins over higher-ranked teams at state as the Bears followed up the win by besting No. 5 Tahoma, 60-53, in the quarterfinals.
Gerrits and Engholm continued their strong play, scoring 22 and 14 points, respectively, to power Olympia to a win in a rematch over a Tahoma squad, which had knocked off Olympia at the district tournament.
Making their first 4A state semifinal appearance in 73 years, the Bears fell to No. 1 Mount Si, 53-39. The Wildcats, who would go on to lose to Curtis in overtime (52-49) in the championship game, held a slim 23-22 lead at the half, but put the game away after outscoring Olympia, 14-5, in the third quarter. Gerrits paced the Bears’ offense with 19 points, while Mason Juergens scored 9 points.
The third place represents Olympia’s best finish since they were runner-ups of the 3A tournament in 1998 and the 18th time in program history they took home a trophy at the state tournament. Also adding to the historical aspect of the accomplishment is the fact that the last time the Bears placed this high in the 4A ranks was back in 1949 when they also finished third.
While Olympia was making history in Tacoma, Tumwater was doing the same thing in the Yakima SunDome. The No. 5 T-Birds defeated No. 7 Port Angeles, 50-45, to secure the fourth-place trophy at the 2A state tournament.
It is Tumwater’s best finish ever in the 2A ranks and its best finish overall since placing third at the 3A tournament in 1976.
Tumwater (22-6) got big games from seniors Ryan Otton and Adam Overbay in their final high school basketball game of their careers with Otton scoring 12 points and grabbing 13 rebounds and Overbay adding a team 13 points against the Rough Riders.
The T-Birds hammered No. 12 Grandview, 66-46, in the first round with junior Andrew Collins scoring 17 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. Tumwater also received 16 points from junior Luke Brewer and a double-double (12 points and 13 rebounds) from Otton.
Up next for the T-Birds in the quarterfinals was a rematch against No. 3 R.A. Long, which defeated Tumwater in the district championship game. Unfortunately for the T-Birds, the outcome was the same with the Lumberjacks, the eventual state runner-ups, enjoying a 61-54 victory. Collins once again led Tumwater in scoring, contributing 18 points, with Brewer scoring 17 points.
Facing the possibility of leaving the state tournament without any hardware for the second time in the last three seasons, the T-Birds beat No. 8 Sehome, 62-47, in a loser-out game to advance to the trophy round. Brewer was simply lights out from long range, sinking seven 3s to finish with a game-high 28 points, while Collins scored 14 points.
It marks just the fourth time in school history Tumwater placed at the state tournament and the highest placing ever at 2A. In addition to finishing third in the 3A state tournament in 1976, the T-Birds also placed fifth in 3A in 1998 and fifth in 2A in 2016.
Timberline closed out its strong season with a trip to the Class 3A state tournament. The Blazers lost to Mountlake Terrace, 65-62, in the first round in a game that featured 13 lead changes and 8 ties. Miles Gurske scored 22 points and Brooklyn Hicks scored 21 points and 10 rebounds for Timberline.