MarJon Beauchamp scores 33 points for the Vikings, who played without starters Jamon Kemp and Jaivion Garret. Rainier Beach stayed unbeaten against in-state competition in handing the Crusaders their first loss, 70-66.
One is currently the king to the throne in the Metro League. The other is the prince in waiting.
And, it will stay that way for now.
Junior MarJon Beauchamp stepped up with 33 points and top-ranked Rainier Beach, playing without two injured starters and three regulars, rallied in the second half to turn back second-ranked Eastside Catholic 70-66 in a rescheduled Metro League showdown on Thursday night.
Senior guard Naysean Baisy tallied 10 of his 15 points in the second half for the Vikings (15-4 overall, 14-0 league) as they charged back from down eight points late in the third quarter.
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“I just wanted to take responsibility on my team of being a leader,” said Beauchamp, who was gassed late in the game with all he did for his team after scoring 21 points in the first half. “I was just taking advantage of what I can do. We just wanted to win. We took winning to heart. We want to be No. 1 (in Metro).
“My two previous years the teams I’ve been on (at Nathan Hale and Garfield) I’ve been No. 1 as a team.”
This one was clearly for Metro League supremacy to this point in the 2018-19 season. The Vikings, the lone team who is unbeaten in Metro play, have now won 18 games in a row against Eastside Catholic, according to scores on www.MaxPreps.com.
“You never know when your number is going to be called, and when it’s called, you’ve got to step up to the plate,” Rainier Beach coach Mike Bethea said after playing without three regulars, who were out with injuries. “That’s what Beach basketball is about. That’s the Beach culture. You have to step up and be ready to go.”
Beach entered the game unbeaten against state competition and stayed that way. All four losses were against top-level, out-of-state teams. The Vikings, who were without injured starters Jamon Kemp (6-6 senior, knee) and Jaivion Garrett (6-5 senior, ankle) on Thursday, had been nationally ranked for part of the season.
“Those guys should be back for the playoffs,” Bethea said. “We think they should be back next week we hope.”
Beach took control over the Crusaders (19-1, 13-1) with Beauchamp at the throttle of the offense. The Vikings tied the game at 55-55 on Baisy’s deep three-pointer with 5:13 left in the game as they completely wiped out Eastside Catholic’s 50-42 lead that came with 1:41 showing in the third quarter.
Beauchamp gave Beach its first lead of the second half at 61-60 by hitting the first of two free throws at the 3:30 mark of the fourth quarter. JT Tuimoloau (13 points) gave EC the lead back at 62-61 just 40 seconds later on a hook in the lane, but Beach used a 9-0 run to take charge.
Baisy hit a jumper, Micah Monroe (14 points) buried a three-pointer with 2:18 left in the game for a 66-62 cushion and then the Vikings made 4 of 7 free throws in the final 1:13 to seal the victory.
Shane Nowell led the Crusaders with 20 points and Syon Blackmon had 16 points.
“I honestly feel like no matter who Rainier Beach puts on the floor, I mean they’re going to be athletic and fast and it doesn’t matter who it is,” EC coach Brent Merritt said. “The guys behind Jamon and Jaivion played their butts off. They’re like us, they’re extremely deep. I feel like we made a lot of mistakes down the stretch. We turned the ball over too much.
“We came down and shot quick shots. The agenda was off and we didn’t execute. We needed a tough environment game to dial the guys back in after we told them all the stuff they’re not doing is going to catch up to you.”
Beach has won three games in a row since a 65-59 loss at Jefferson of Portland, Ore., on Jan. 21 in the MLK Classic contest.
EC finishes the regular season at Bainbridge on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Beach closes out the regular season at home against Cleveland on Saturday in a 8 p.m. tipoff.
Prior to the game, the Crusaders had locked up their first division/league regular-season title since winning Metro division crowns in 2014 and 2015 with stars Matisse Thybulle and Mandrell Worthy.
Beach has won or shared division/league regular-season titles 11 of the past 13 seasons and won nine state titles in school history with the last coming in 3A in 2016. The Vikings denied Eastside Catholic its lone shot at a state title in 2014, beating the Crusaders 47-45 in the 3A final.
Both schools have dominated Metro foes to this point in the season with EC owning a 26-point average win margin to Beach’s 23.6-point average separation before this matchup.