Rainier Beach junior MarJon Beauchamp led the Vikings with 17 points while Micah Monroe added 15 points off the bench. Paolo Banchero had 20 points and 10 rebounds to guide O’Dea.
A random voice in the packed Rainier Beach High gym offered assurance Tuesday.
“It’s coming! Don’t worry, it’s coming,” a fan yelled. The implication was the offensive show you’d expect from two nationally recognized teams and players was brewing. And it was, but the host Vikings came up with some key defensive stops in the end.
O’Dea sophomore Paolo Banchero, a 6-foot-9 wing, soared above the rim for two dunks and a blocked shot in the second half to help the Irish close within a bucket of the Vikings’ lead in the waning seconds. But he missed his final shot, and Rainier Beach, The Seattle Times’ top-ranked 3A team in the state, slipped into the night with a 70-67 victory in the Metro League matchup against the state’s No. 2-ranked team.
Banchero had a game-high 20 points and 10 rebounds in the losing effort.
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“He’s way better than last year,” Beach junior MarJon Beauchamp said of Banchero. “His shot is better and he’s big. We were trying to help on him defensively because he could just get by, but then we were fouling him. We weren’t nervous, though. We knew we had them.”
Beauchamp grabbed a defensive rebound to end the game. Despite being as highly regarded as Banchero on the recruiting scene, Beauchamp had a sputtering offensive showing against O’Dea.
It was senior guard Micah Monroe who hopped off the bench to provide Beach the needed spark in the opening half. And in the fourth quarter, it was Monroe’s defense that helped the Vikings.
Beach built a 69-58 lead with 3:55 left in the game after a fast-break dunk from senior Jaivion Garrett. Beach didn’t score another field goal, however, and was 1 for 6 from the free-throw line.
“We were letting the game slip away,” Beach coach Mike Bethea said. “A lot had to do with poor offensive execution. When you have a team down like that, you’ve got to execute. So, there are still things to work on.”
O’Dea senior Noah Williams made three free throws and had a driving layin to help shrink the deficit. Banchero had a block against Beauchamp, a 6-6 wing, with one minute left and then had a thunderous dunk that brought most of the spectators in the gym to their feet with 35 seconds left.
Banchero’s dunk made the score 70-67. The Irish were prevented from getting any closer after Beach senior Jamon Kemp stripped Williams of his dribble with 12.9 seconds left and a foul was called against Irish sophomore John Christofilis.
Monroe missed the ensuing free throw with 11.6 seconds left, but Banchero missed a possible game-tying three-pointer.
“I felt like I let my team down,” Monroe said of the missed free throw. “It was in my head that I gave them a chance to win the game. But we came together as a team to win together as a team.”
Beauchamp led Beach with 17 points while Monroe added 15 points off the bench.
“This is our first game with real competition,” said Banchero. “Early on we kind of got surprised, but we bounced back. This shows we can play with anybody.”
Rainier Beach (6-0, 6-0 in Metro League) continues league play at home against Roosevelt on Friday. O’Dea (4-1, 4-1) plays a home game against West Seattle.