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Bellevue girls, boys, beat Mercer Island to capture 3A KingCo titles | Prep basketball news
Things didn't start off exactly as planned for Bellevue in the championship game of the 3A KingCo girls basketball tournament, at least on offense.
But thanks to a stifling defensive effort over the first 16 minutes and an offense that found its rhythm behind dynamic sophomore Shelby Cansler, the Wolverines claimed a title anyway, beating Mercer Island 49-37 at Bellevue College to take the conference tournament title and top seed to districts.
"I was proud of our defensive effort," head coach Leah Krautter said. "Our game plan was to take it fast and try to run on them, but we just needed to slow down and be strong on our finishes."
A host of missed layups and inside shots by the Wolverines kept things close in the first half, with six lead changes before the break. But two Cansler buckets just before halftime turned the lead to Bellevue for the final time, and sent her team to its third straight 3A KingCo tournament championship.
"Everyone really needed to know we need to step up on defense," Cansler said. "That is how we win games."
The sophomore standout was a key on both ends of the floor, especially as her team found its footing in the early going. Krautter said even after leaning on Cansler two days earlier in the semi-finals, she never saw signs of fatigue.
"I was really proud of the way she came out," Krautter said. "She just doesn't let up."
Cansler led all scorers with 22 points on the night, while Deja Rogers added seven more for Bellevue in the win.
After finishing with the same conference record as the Islanders during the regular season, the Wolverines were left with the fourth seed in the conference tourney a year after reaching the 3A state semi-finals. But three games in six days, including a semi-final contest with a Juanita team that had beaten them in both regular season meetings, proved no obstacle for a team now one win from going back to Regionals.
"We came into the tournament with a ton of heart," Cansler said. "This season didn't go exactly as we planned, we knew we needed to come out in this tournament."
The win sends Bellevue to a Tuesday game in the Sea-King district tournament against the winner of a first round game between Bainbridge and Lakeside, with a spot to Regionals on the line.
"It puts us in a good place going into districts, and we like our matchups," Krautter said. "We're confident going forward."
Shelby Cansler scored a game high 22 points to lead Bellevue to the win. JOSH SUMAN, BELLEVUE REPORTER
The Wolverines celebrate a third straight KingCo tournament title. JOSH SUMAN, BELLEVUE REPORTER
Boys drop Islanders for KingCo title
Bellevue players celebrate their KingCo title win. JOE LIVARCHIK, MERCER ISLAND REPORTER
The Bellevue boys made it a clean sweep over the Islanders Thursday night, winning the 3A KingCo title game 55-49 behind 13 points from Dylan Foreman.
The Wolverines trailed by double digits in the second half, but came back to claim the conference tournament crown and stay unbeaten against conference foes on the year.
Bellevue takes a top seed to the Sea-King district tournament, and will face the winner of a first round game between West Seattle and Seattle Prep at 8:15 p.m. Feb. 18 for a spot in the tournament semi-finals and 3A Regional round.