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Bellevue meets Sunnyside for 3A state semi final spot | Prep basketball news
Bellevue (21-6) VS. Sunnyside (21-3)
When: Thursday, March 6, 5:30 p.m., Tacoma Dome
What's at stake: A spot in the 3A state semi finals against either Lincoln or Cleveland
Last game: Bellevue took care of Kennedy Catholic 69-52 in the Regional round at Bellevue College to get back to the state quarterfinals for a second straight year.
Sunnyside won its round of 16 game 61-45 over Auburn Mountainview to reach the Tacoma Dome.
Players to watch for
Sunnyside - Jordan Rodriguez, JR., Guard
The junior point guard and 2012-13 conference Player of the Year scored a game high 17 points and pulled down 16 rebounds in her team's Regional round win over Auburn Mountainview, and will be a focal point for the Wolverines on defense.
Bellevue - Mandy Steward, JR., Guard
While junior Shelby Cansler could have a major impact in the post against the undersized Grizzlies, it will be Steward and the backcourt tasked with containing Rodriguez off the dribble and finding driving lanes.
Without a dominant post player, and no one on the roster listed above 5-foot-10, the focus will likely be on Rodriguez and the backcourt.
Scott Spruill of the Yakima Herald-Republic covered the Grizzlies during the season and their postseason run, and said the frenetic pace and high volume of shots have been reliable weapons.
"They are deep, and can sustain a hectic pace," he said of Sunnyside. "Sometimes it's not pretty, but they can score."
The Grizzlies put up an astounding 70 shots in their Regional win, and are averaging 70 points per game during their postseason run.
Bellevue has no shortage of capable perimeter players, led by junior Mandy Steward, the team's second leading scorer.
Seniors Erin McGowan and Kate Holmes, along with sophomore reserve Elisa Park, will also have to contribute to slowing Rodriguez and Sunnyside's offensive attack.
Finding their place
The only 3A team in the Columbia Basin/Big 9 conference, the Grizzlies tied with Moses Lake for the league title before storming through the postseason against Class 3A foes.
A program that endured five straight 19-loss seasons from 2006-10, Sunnyside has not been to the state tournament since 2002.
Bellevue has been on a similar resurgence under current head coach Leah Krautter, who has led her team to three straight playoff appearances and last year's 3A semi finals.