PUYALLUP – Their fast-paced offense makes the Beamer Titans dangerous.

Their ferocious defense makes them deadly. And a legitimate threat to win the Class 4A state girls basketball championship.

After trailing at halftime for the first time this season, third-ranked Beamer turned up the heat and pulled away for a 56-39 victory over No. 8 Puyallup in a South Puget Sound League South Division showdown of unbeatens.

The Vikings (8-1, 6-1), up 25-24 at the half, made just 1 of 14 field goals in the third quarter.

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“That’s our bread and butter, our defense,” coach Corey Alexander said. “We have to hang our hat on our defense.”

Addie Picha’s bucket 36 seconds into the third quarter put the Vikings back on top, 27-26, after Beamer had scored to start the half. But then they missed 14 straight shots as the Titans (9-0, 6-0) pulled out to a 37-27 advantage.

Meagan Huff, who had been held in check for most of the game to that point, answered with a basket at the buzzer off a perfect inbounds pass underneath from Bria Rice — one of Rice’s five assists to go along with 14 points.

Rice, one of three sophomore starters, admitted that her team took Puyallup a bit too lightly coming in.

“They came and played and we had to play our game, too,” she said.

Puyallup got as close as eight points in the fourth quarter, but Beamer closed out the game on a 9-0 run.

“The first half, we were ready for them,” Puyallup coach Cherokee Ainslee said. “Then we lost wind. But I’m very proud of my girls.”

Marissa Miller led Puyallup with 11 points, while Picha and Braylie Jeffers added 10 apiece.

Huff, a 6-foot-3 senior who has committed to Hawaii for both volleyball and basketball, scored nine of her 15 points in the second half. She also had seven rebounds (five offensive) and six blocked shots. Quinessa Caylao-Do also scored 15.

Sandy Ringer: 206-718-1512 or sringer@seattletimes.com