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Bellevue boys beat Stanwood, set to face Rainier Beach in semi finals | Prep basketball news
For the first few minutes of Bellevue's 3A state quarterfinal game against once-beaten Stanwood, the Wolverines looked out of sorts, falling into an 11-2 hole.
But thanks to the influence of guards Sharif Khan and Kyle Foreman, and some timely shooting from junior Zach Moore, that appearance proved deceiving.
The Wolverines weathered the early storm from the once-beaten Spartans, took the lead with a minute left in the first quarter on a Foreman bucket and never looked back en route to a 61-43 win.
"You've got to do it one possession at a time," O'Connor said of digging out of the first quarter deficit. "They play a really good matchup zone and it takes a little getting used to."
Bellevue acclimated itself quickly with its season on the line, and used a 17-0 run of its own to go up 28-15 on back-to-back threes from Moore. O'Connor said after sustaining a concussion in practice, Moore was unavailable in the Regional round against Lincoln.
But he made a timely return in the quarterfinals, and finished with 12 points in the win.
"Zach is a great shooter," O'Connor said. "I don't think they knew much about him."
Khan finished with a team high 14 and Foreman added nine, and the two also played a large role in forcing 15 Stanwood turnovers.
"We really went over their offense in practice," Khan said. "We anticipated the passing lanes and helped each other out."
Another critical element to the defensive effort was the play in the post, where the Spartans' 6-foot-8 leading scorer Drew Stang was in early foul trouble and played only 19 minutes, scoring 13 points.
O'Connor said before the game using a number of big bodies on Stang and getting him to commit fouls was the game plan. Junior Gunther Klimes handled the task for much of the night, battling for loose balls and jockeying with Stang down low, and finished with eight points, eight rebounds and a blocked shot.
"He has a good mid-range, and he's crafty and has a good spin move," Klimes said. "I just wanted to give him a lot of pressure."
Standout guard Josh Thayer scored a team high 16 for the Spartans to lead all scorers, but was held without a point during Bellevue's decisive run in the first half.
The Wolverines led by 11 at the half, and by the same margin at the end of the third quarter, as Stanwood was unable to find second chances while being out rebounded 36-26 and losing for only the second time on the year.
Bellevue advances to face quarterfinal winner and nationally-ranked Rainier Beach, a team sporting an even larger target than usual due to the waiver granted by the WIAA to play in a national tournament after the state champion is crowned.
"It's great," Klimes said of the chance to move on. "We want to beat Beach, and get our first state championship."