Hoops: Todd Beamer Titans move one game closer to Tacoma Dome

Senior Will Tellis drops game high 26 points en route to win over Ridgeline.

The 3A state basketball tournament may be confusing for fans, staff and students. But for the players, the tournament means one thing: Play like your season depends on it, because it actually does.

Todd Beamer High School for most of the year has been on a similar path as the mythological story of Sisyphus. Every time Todd Beamer looks to finally push the stone to the top of the mountain, it comes crashing down and they seemingly start all over.

Look at the three meetings against Auburn. First meeting ended a three-game win streak. The second meeting ended a ten-game win streak. With a loss to Auburn Mountainview in between the third loss, the Trojans sent the boulder back over the Titans in the district championship.

In the regional play-in game, the Titans hosted Ridgeline out of Liberty Lake and got closer to pushing that boulder to the top of the mountain.

“We’ve been building to get here and we got over that hump tonight, I felt like,” said Head Coach Brent Brilhante.

Todd Beamer was able to close out Ridgeline 63-57 to advance to the regional round. The Titans are on a quest to make it back to the Tacoma Dome for the first time since 2014, and are now one step closer. Brilhante made the state tournament three times as a player at Decatur, and early in his coaching career it seemed like a rite of passage.

“You take that for granted. Now as I am getting older, it is hard. It’s hard to get right here… For us as a little guy it’s hard. These kids earned their shot to get there,” Brilhante said.

Titan senior Will Tellis scored 26 points in the win and was either the leading scorer or tied for the most points in every quarter with his Titan teammates.

“I came in thinking I don’t want the season to end. So I am going to try my hardest and make every possession count,” Tellis said.

Todd Beamer got out to a shaky start, trailing 11-4 early in the first quarter, but steady defensive play got Beamer back in the game, and they trailed 14-12 after the opening period.

“We were able to keep our composure, and trust our teammates. Slow (the game) down and play our game,” Tellis said.

Tellis took over in the second quarter and “Will’d” his way to get the Titans back in the game. He scored six points and got Beamer within a single point at the halftime break. He was just in a good spot mentally to drive this team: “He can flat out put the ball in the basket. He is fearless, he is absolutely fearless,” Brilhante said.

Since the beginning of the season, Brilhante has wanted his side to rebound and defend. In the second half, they did just that. The Titans held the Falcons to just 11 third quarter points and outscored Ridgeline 16-11 to take a four-point lead heading to the fourth.

“Rebounding was a key. Own the defensive glass and be opportunistic on the offensive glass,” Brilhante said.

During that third quarter, Todd Beamer led by 12 points. But the Falcons found a way to get hot beyond the arc, at one point going 4 for 4. Coming in, the Titans knew they could shoot and would shoot a lot. Ridgeline ranked first in three-point attempts in 3A.

“They were a lot bigger than I thought they were going to be. They’ve got some strong kids. Ridgeline played hard and they can shoot the heck out of the ball,” Brilhante said.

In that final quarter, Todd Beamer clicked on all cylinders. Caleb Berry, who has been in a bit of a slump, drained a three and made a trio of free-throws. Brilhante in no way has lost confidence in Berry, but seeing Berry get his confidence back gives Beamer an extra tool for its tool belt.

“He’s just gotta be more aggressive. I told him he’s got to make himself open… He’s not going to take a bad shot, but he’s gotta be thinking, I’m going to let it fly. He’s just thinking a little too much. But his confidence is still there,” Brilhante said.

Tellis also had his best quarter, scoring 10 points in the fourth. The quarter was a quarter the Titans had to have. Big shots were made by Tellis, while Ahmed Ismail and Dom Simpson got in with five fourth quarter points.

“The kids made some big shots and gutted this win out. From about the 2:00 mark in the third quarter to the end of the game, we were pretty sound. That is all I can ask for,” Brilhante said.

“I was too comfortable out there. I felt like every shot was going to go in,” Tellis said.

Beamer now travels to Mount Vernon Feb. 24 on the road to take on the Bulldogs in a winner to the Tacoma Dome matchup. It’s been 10 years for Beamer, but just for the players to have the opportunity is special enough.

“I’m very excited. I have never played in the playoffs. I finally get to prove myself and I am going out there and do it,” Tellis said.