TACOMA — The Mariner boys basketball team scratched and clawed its way back from a brutal first half.
But in the end, the Marauders’ offensive woes were too much to overcome.
No. 6-seeded Mariner struggled to score for long stretches and suffered a season-ending 50-41 loss to No. 11 seed Olympia in a Class 4A Hardwood Classic first-round game Wednesday afternoon in the Tacoma Dome.
“I’m proud of us for playing hard,” Marauders coach Tevin Dillon said. “(But) we struggled to score the ball.”
Mariner, which was making its first Hardwood Classic appearance since 2009, went scoreless for the game’s first four minutes. The Marauders (16-10) suffered another long drought in the second quarter, going scoreless for the first 6 1/2 minutes of that period.
And after rallying to take a brief one-point lead in the fourth quarter, Mariner mustered just two points over the final 5 1/2 mintues as Olympia (24-5) pulled away to reach the 4A state quarterfinals.
The Marauders shot just 34.8% from the field, including 23.8% in the first half.
“I think running our offense, getting in our offense and moving the ball, sharing the ball — that’s where we struggled,” Dillon said. “We struggled with it all year. That’s kind of when we hit our downs — when we’re not moving the ball well.”
Mariner trailed 26-15 at halftime after a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Olympia’s Parker Gerrits. At the break, the Marauders had made just five made field goals and committed seven turnovers.
“Painful,” Dillon said of his team’s first half. “Painful.”
But Mariner stormed out of the gates in the third quarter, using a quick 11-4 spurt to trim the margin. Senior forward Dakota Joseph scored six points in the period, helping the Marauders cut the deficit to 36-33.
Joseph then opened the fourth quarter with another interior basket. And senior point guard Tijan Saine followed with a pair of difficult finishes, including a contested floater that gave Mariner a 39-38 edge with 5:30 to play.
“We can go out there and put our foot down and give it everything we’ve got, or we can just call it a day,” Dillon said of his halftime message to the team. “So they came out and played hard. We fought.”
Olympia regained a one-point lead on a transition basket from Mason Juergens with 3:50 to go. The Bears then added a pair of layups off well-executed sideline inbound plays, which extended their lead to 44-39 with 1:34 left.
“We were kind of overplaying them and trying to trap, and they were able to get those easy layups,” Dillon said. “And it ended up hurting us.”
Olympia sealed the game with free throws down the stretch and advanced to face No. 5 seed Tahoma in Thursday’s state quarterfinals.
Andreas Engholm, a 6-foot-7 junior forward, led the Bears with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Gerrits, a junior guard with Division I college offers, scored 10 points before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.
Senior guard Caden Roth added 10 points and Juergens had eight points and eight rebounds for Olympia, which shot 54.1% from the field and overcame 20 turnovers. The Bears held a big advantage on the boards, outrebounding Mariner 33-19.
Saine and senior guard Naser Motley led the Marauders with 13 points apiece. Joseph finished which eight points.
“At this time of the season, everything has to be solid,” Dillon said. “We’ve gotta block out, we’ve gotta make layups, we’ve gotta make free throws. And that’s what we struggled with. It’s hurt us in games, and it hurt us tonight.”
Despite the loss, it was another milestone-filled season for Mariner in its program’s recent resurgence.
The Marauders claimed the Wesco 4A title, which marked their first league championship since 2002-03. And for the first time in 13 years, they reached the Tacoma Dome.
Mariner graduates four seniors in Saine, Motley, Joseph and forward Mohamad Camara.
“Those guys have worked hard, they’re good leaders and they’re a great group,” Dillon said. “… They make it easy to coach. I’m gonna miss them.”