BELLEVUE – No. 1 Bellevue believed it belonged with the top boys teams in Class 3A, despite playing in a weak KingCo 3A/2A conference. On Thursday, the Wolverines proved it.
Behind a brilliant fourth-quarter defensive effort, Bellevue erased a 10-point deficit to beat No. 3 Garfield 67-62 and advance to the Sea-King 3A tournament title game, knocking off one of Metro’s best teams.
The Wolverines will play Rainier Beach Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Bellevue College. “I think we definitely made a statement tonight and we’re definitely one of the best teams in the state, if not the best,” said Zack Moore, who had 22 points, including the tying and go-ahead buckets.
Bellevue slowly crawled back from a 56-46 deficit after three quarters. With 2:30 left, Moore finished an easy layup in transition to tie the game, 60-60. After a Garfield miss on the ensuing possession, Moore nailed a three-pointer to give the Wolverines their first lead since early in the third.
Garfield’s Jaylen Nowell, who finished with 24 points, finally ended a 19-4 Bellevue run with 8.6 seconds left to cut the deficit to 65-62. Sharif Khan hit a pair of free throws, though, to put the game out of reach.
“They’re confident kids, as it is, and they’re an experienced group of kids,” Bellevue coach Chris O’Connor said. The Wolverines put Gunther Klimes on Nowell in a box-and-one after the Garfield sophomore’s scoring burst in the third quarter, and it seemed to confound the Bulldogs, who scored just six points in the fourth. Klimes also came up huge offensively, with 22 points.