Bellevue boys handle Seattle Prep in Sea-King district tournament, stamp Regional ticket | Prep basketball news

Bellevue's Jack Walton throws down a dunk against Seattle Prep.
— image credit: Rick Edelman, Courtesy photo

The past three seasons, Bellevue has been unable to put together a prolonged postseason run.

Tuesday night, as music blared and players and coaches exulted from inside the locker room at Bellevue College, it was obvious this year was different.

Coach Chris O'Connor's Wolverines used an 11-4 run in the second quarter and ten point advantage in the period to take control against Seattle Prep, and exploded with a barrage of three-pointers to win 71-47 in the quarterfinals of the Sea-King district boys basketball tournament.

"I think we played the right way for most of the game," O'Connor said, crediting his team's effort on the glass. "Defensively, we were engaged, we knew where their shooters were."

Sophomore guard Sharif Khan and junior Kyle Foreman each scored a team high 15 points to pace a Bellevue offense that found its rhythm midway through a first quarter that featured four lead changes and saw the Panthers leading 17-15.

But Prep was unable to withstand the defensive pressure from the KingCo regular season and tournament champions in the second quarter, and saw the lead change for good on three straight three-pointers that keyed the decisive Wolverine surge in a 14-game win streak win that dates to December.

"It's something we always go to, it is a constant," O'Connor said of his team's defense. "It is something that is just in your heart and something we count on all the time."

Bellevue forced 21 turnovers on the game, and made nine shots from beyond the three point arc to advance to Thursday's district semi-final game and more importantly, take one of 16 spots in the state's Regional round.

After reaching the title game during the 2010-2011 season, the Wolverines have been unable to get back to the final 16, something Khan said was not lost on this year's group.

"It's just good to stamp our ticket," he said. "We're just really pumped up right now."

Junior Jordan Kitchen scored a game high 16 points to keep Prep within reach, getting as close as 11 points with just more than two minutes left in the third quarter. But Bellevue proved too much inside and on the glass, and held on for the win and a date with Eastside Catholic Thursday at Bellevue College with a district title game spot on the line.

O'Connor said his team, which includes a host of sophomore and junior contributors who have yet to taste postseason success, seems to be on the right track headed in to that matchup.

"We are finally putting it all together," he said.

The Crusaders, which defeated Franklin 65-46 in another semi-final, will be waiting in the second game at Courter Family Pavilion Thursday for the right to play Rainier Beach or O'Dea.

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