FINAL: Rainier Beach 73, Bellevue 61
TACOMA — Rainier Beach coach Mike Bethea let his team have it.
The Vikings, the undefeated No. 1 team in Class 3A, coasted through the first half against No. 4 Bellevue. They didn’t run the ball up the court. They looked half-awake on defense. They trailed by one at halftime.
“Look,” Bethea told his team during the break, “the bottom line is you guys just are not playing hard. Right now, they’re playing harder than us. And if we don’t turn this around, it’s over.”
Bethea smiled in the retelling.
“I got the message through,” he said. “My way.”
Beach played inspired after halftime and pulled away from Bellevue for a 73-61win in Friday’s Class 3A state semifinals.
Beach (28-0) will play No. 3 Eastside Catholic (23-5) for a fourth time this season in Saturday’s 3A state championship game. At stake for the Vikings is not only a crack at their third straight state title but also a trip to Madison Square Garden for a national championship tournament.
Beach, though, looked in need of a kick in the pants in the first half.
Bellevue (21-5) has a talented team, but Wolverines coach Chris O’Connor also knew his group had to control the pace against Beach. That’s what happened in the first half. The Wolverines were picky in their shot selection, and they kept the game at a jog instead of a sprint.
Bellevue forward Jack Walton had eight of his team-high 14 points in the first half. The Wolverines scored the final seven points of the second quarter to take a 27-26 halftime lead.
“We just took our time offensively and made them play defense,” O’Connor said.
Bethea knew his team needed to change that. The Vikings have one of the most athletic rosters in the state, and they thrive when they’re able to get up and down the court.
“We want to basically make a team play faster than they want to play,” Beathea said. “We weren’t doing that. We were allowing them to play at their pace.”
Not so in the second half. Fueled on the defensive end by senior Djuan Piper, Beach delivered a decisive blow in the first three minutes of the third quarter. The Vikings opened the second half on a 12-2 run, and big man Elijah Foster had nine of his 18 points during the run.
“Unfortunately,” O’Connor said, “I wish we could take those first three minutes back.”
Beach guard Naim Ladd provided a jolt off the bench. He scored 15 points, but more important than that, he controlled the game’s pace. Beach maintained a double-digit lead for much of the second half.
“I always refer to Naim as my security blanket,” Bethea said. “Big game, he always shows up.”
David Crisp scored 18 points for Beach and Piper added 13, but the real turnaround came on the defensive end for the Vikings.
“We just bodied up on them,” Foster said.
FINAL: Stanwood 66, Shadle Park 54
The determination didn’t come right away, but by the time Stanwood met for dinner on Thursday, Zach Ward saw it in his team.
The No. 6 Spartans had suffered just one loss all season, but were blown out of the water by Bellevue in their first state tournament appearance since 2010. Ward told the players that they had until 5 pm to mope about the loss.
When Stanwood showed up Friday for its consolation bracket game, it came prepared, topping Shadle Park 66-54. The Spartans advance to Saturday’s fourth-place game against O’Dea at 8 am, while the Highlanders’ season comes to a close.
“I think their mindset was different today more than anything,” Ward said. “We’re just getting to Saturday. We’re going to do what it takes.”
That meant getting forward Drew Stang more touches down low. Stang converted the opportunities pouring in a game-high 21 points on 7 of 13 shooting. The senior also grabbed 12 rebounds, six on the offensive glass. Josh Thayer add 18 points for Stanwood.
The Spartans (24-2) led by as much as 20 in the second half, but Shadle Park (10-15) rallied to cut the deficit to 11, but that would be as close as it would get.
FINAL: O’Dea 47, University 45
Al Hairston wanted to make one message clear.
“You got three and a half minutes to play in your basketball career if you don’t step it up,” he told O’Dea during a timeout with just less than four minutes to play Friday.
The No. 10 Irish took the words to heart and knocked off University 47-45 in a consolation bracket game. O’Dea (18-11) advances to face Stanwood or Shadle Park in the fourth-place game Saturday at 8 am. University’s season comes to an end.
The final few minutes were frantic as the teams changed leads four times heading into the timeout with 3:46 left to play. At that point, senior Tyler Kidd had just hit a pair of free throws to give the Irish a 43-42 lead.
O’Dea got a pair of stops out of the timeout and Jacob Lampkin and Jamar Kemp followed with layups to push the lead to 47-42 with about two minutes remaining. Michael Isotalo responded with a three-pointer, cutting the O’Dea lead to 47-45.
After Kidd missed the front-end of a one-and-one a sloppy exchange saw both teams commit turnovers, giving University (16-11) one final opportunity at the buzzer. Andrew Schimmels’ running jumper from the top of the key was off the mark, though, and O’Dea escaped with the win.
Jacob Lampkin led O’Dea with 20 points and 12 rebounds.