Vikings attain a coveted aspiration

Bellevue Christian to face Mount Baker at Class 1A state tournament Feb. 28.

Flashback to the conclusion of the 2014-15 season: The Bellevue Christian Vikings basketball team finished with an overall record of 2-18.

Close to 36 months later, the Vikings basketball transformation is complete. Bellevue Christian (18-6) will face Mount Baker in the first round of the Class 1A state tournament at 12:15 p.m. on Feb. 28 at the Yakima SunDome.

Bellevue Christian head coach Brandon Kats, who is in his fourth season as the leader of the program, is proud of the journey to the pinnacle his team has experienced.

“It has been a really big turnaround. I’m extremely happy for our guys. They’ve worked so hard. This current group of freshman during my first year as head coach were 2-18. Watching how far this program has come with these seniors has been incredible. It is a really cool accomplishment and has been a lot of fun,” Kats said of earning a berth at the state tournament.

The Vikings, who have six seniors on the 2017-18 roster including Tyler Jump, Manny Turner, Brandon Parsons, Codi Barnidge, Josh Polley and Eric Kats, are leaders of a tight-knit team that exudes unbridled team camaraderie on and off the court.

“They enjoy being around each other and that goes a long way,” Kats said. “I think it is one of the most underrated things in basketball is the guys liking each other. It definitely helps and is huge for us. They spend a lot of time on road trips and before and practices hanging out. You can see that translate to the court.”

While the Vikings will be competing at the Class 1A state tournament for the first time in Kats’ tenure, it won’t be first time they’ve played at the Yakima SunDome. Kats said his team has played at the annual Yakima Wilbur-Ellis Shootout tournament during Christmas break the past two seasons.

“We wanted to get the guys comfortable in that venue. Playing in a dome is really different from any other high school gym in the state,” Kats said. “We definitely don’t just want to be happy to be there. We would love to make some noise. We know we’re good and we know it takes a lot to beat the teams in this tournament. We would love to play on Saturday (final day of the tournament on March 3). We’ve talked for awhile now about trying to stay together as a team for as long as possible. Saturday is the absolute longest we can stay together. There is nothing past that. We would love to take the season to the very end. That is the goal in our minds. We want to be playing for a place at state on Saturday.”