The area’s best team may also be its least publicized.
The Bellevue Christian girls basketball team has quietly been racking up wins and dominating opponents. The small school in Clyde Hill has already clinched a state tournament berth and looks like a contender for the Class 1A title.
The Vikings, owners of a 23-1 record, won their fourth-straight Emerald City League title earlier this month. And while the girls program may not be as storied as the BCS boys program, coach Jade Hayes’ team is carving out its own legend as a 1A team to be reckoned with.
“We’re playing well,” Hayes said. “They definitely have some pretty high hopes this year with how we’re going to finish.”
The Vikings only loss this season came to Seattle Christian, a 49-46 overtime loss on the road. Since then Bellevue Christian has run off eight straight wins, including a 46-38 win over King’s last night in the semifinals of the District 1/2/3 Tri-District Tournament.
Bellevue Christian now plays Lynden Christian tomorrow at 6 p.m. for the district’s No.1 seed to state, which would mean the team would play at Glacier Peak High School for its first two games instead of traveling down to Centrailia.
“Our Tri-District is one of the toughest districts in the state,” Hayes said. “There are going to be some good teams missing the state tournament.”
But the Vikings won’t be among them, largely thanks to a balance in scoring and a tough defensive posture.
Bellevue Christian is led by a trio of starters who average double figures or just under: 6-foot-3 senior center Maren Haines, and junior guards Bree Oldham and Alina Valle, daughter of former Seattle Mariners catcher Dave Valle.
All three players have scored over 200 points this season. Haines, thanks to her height and skill, garners much of the Vikings’ opponents attention, and Hayes credits her for opening things up for her teammates.
“She’s really learned this year to kick out, re-post and distribute the ball,” Hayes said. “You can key in on Maren, and that’s fine, but you’re going to open things up for our wings. I’m hoping that can carry us deep in the next couple of weeks.”
For now, the team has its sights set on Lynden Christian tomorrow, and the No.1 seed. With the state tournament being played under the controversial new format for the first time (rounds one and two played at regional sites), Hayes said that for her girls, it’s Yakima or bust for the full state experience.
“Yakima, that’s their goal” she said. “That, to them, is what state is.”