Bellevue Wolverines senior girls basketball player Annika Prins wasn’t fazed by the pressure as she meandered toward the free-throw line with the opportunity to seal a monumental victory against the Redmond Mustangs.
With the Wolverines clinging to a 44-42 lead with just 4.7 seconds remaining on the clock, Prins had a one-and-one opportunity at the charity stripe. Prins hit the first free throw and sunk the second free throw, giving the Wolverines a four-point lead.
Redmond didn’t score in the final 4.7 seconds as the Wolverines held on for a 46-42 win in the KingCo 3A tournament championship game on Feb. 7 at Newport High School in Factoria. In the final 11.2 seconds of regulation, Redmond went 1-for-4 at the free throw line which proved costly. Bellevue improved their overall record to 19-3 while Redmond dropped to 20-2 overall.
“That is senior leadership right there. She is our captain and she is the heart of our team. She leads our team vocally and by example,” Bellevue head coach Noah Wulbert said.
Bellevue sophomore Kara Choi hit a plethora of clutch shots from beyond the arc and Eva Richards recorded timely buckets to keep the momentum going throughout the duration of the contest.
“My teammates were with me the whole time. The reason why we were in the game and up (ahead) was because Kara kept hitting threes and Eva was hitting shots the whole game. It was a huge team effort,” Prins said. “It was such a fun game and I’m so glad we got the chance to play in it. It was a great experience.”
Wulbert credited Choi, who was named the MVP of the game, for being in the zone.
“She might be a sophomore, but she is a fantastic player and a leader. She wanted this game,” Wulbert said with a smile.
The Wolverines, who went 1-1 against Redmond in their two contests during the regular season, reviewed game films meticulously in preparation for the third matchup of the 2017-18 season against the Mustangs.
The preparation paid immense dividends.
“We talked all week about boxing out. They are really big and strong,” Wulbert said of Redmond’s talented squad. “The last game we gave up a lot of rebounds off of free throws. We were able to get in the right positions, keep our composure and hold them off.”
Redmond head coach Ashley Graham remained positive following the setback in the KingCo title matchup.
“They were pretty down about the loss today and understandably so. I just told them to keep their heads up,” Graham said of her post-game speech with her team. “There is a lot more season to go. It is our first chance for Redmond at districts in a long time. I don’t think we’ve been there in maybe 15 years. I think we face the Metro No. 8 (seed). We’re going to try to bring our best game.”