The 2.5-hour bus ride from Yakima to the Clyde Hill section of Bellevue was a joyous journey for the Bellevue Christian Vikings boys basketball program.
The Vikings, who finished the 2018-19 season with an overall record of 18-9, earned sixth place at the Class 1A state tournament on March 2 at the Yakima SunDome. Bellevue went 2-2 at the state tourney, capturing victories against Okanagon and Connell while suffering losses against Zillah and Lynden Christian.
Bellevue Christian head coach Brandon Kats said his team’s overtime 61-52 victory against Okanagon in a loser-out game in the opening round of the state tourney on Feb. 27 paved the way for success over the course of the four-day tournament.
“That was the game we lost in last year. It is where we got eliminated,” Kats said of the loser-out, first-round playoff game just one season ago. “Winning in overtime gave us some confidence. It was the third or fourth game in a row where we played really well. We were able to build on that. Okanogan was a good basketball team and it was a great win for us.”
Bellevue Christian, which had nine seniors on the varsity roster during the 2018-19 season, lost 78-49 loss to Lynden Christian in the fourth/sixth-place contest on March 2. The Vikings didn’t let the loss keep them down for long.
“It was an awesome tournament for us. The amount of pride I felt in our guys this last week and a half was an unbelievable feeling to see them play to their full potential,” Kats said of his team. “It was really cool. I’m glad they got to experience that and they will eventually get to hang a banner in our gym for placing at state.”
Kats said one of the most special moments of the weekend occurred on Saturday following the loss to Lynden Christian. The Vikings gathered together for one final time as a team. The emotions were undoubtedly flowing.
“After each season we sit down one last time as a team. We go around and talk about each senior and the seniors talk about each other. The other players (underclassmen) talk about things they appreciated about the seniors. It is always emotional. There was a lot of tears,” Kats said. “There is a certain bond that you have with your high school teammates. These guys sacrificed so much for each other, so when it’s all over it is a little surreal. I think it hit our guys pretty hard but it was so cool that their last experience was this week at state. They earned a trophy and accomplished it together.”