The Bellevue Christian basketball teams hosted Seattle Christian on Jan. 17, with the girls picking up a 42-34 win and the boys losing 58-43.
A 13-0 run to end the fourth quarter proved to be the difference in the Vikings’ win over the visiting Warriors.
The Warriors took a 32-27 lead into the fourth quarter, but a defensive adjustment shifted momentum toward the Vikings. Bellevue Christian head coach Mark DeJonge said after playing most of the game in a zone defense, they switched into man, holding Seattle Christian to only two points in the quarter.
“That kind of woke us up a little bit and got us some steals and got us some easy baskets and that got us the momentum,” DeJonge said. “That was huge. This was a big win for us.”
The Vikings held a 20-16 lead at halftime, but the Warriors opened the third quarter with a pair of 3-pointers from junior Emma Baskett and senior Olivia Clark to quickly regain the lead. Seattle Christian led by as much as nine before entering the fourth quarter with a five-point lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Vikings defense forced turnovers, which resulted in easy buckets on the offensive end. DeJonge said the team’s biggest strength is its defense, so getting easy buckets and put-backs are crucial.
“When we start playing good defense, it goes all the way to the other end of the floor on the offensive end,” DeJonge said.
Sophomore forward Sophia Bold led the Vikings with 19 points and junior guard Rylee Reese added eight points. Both Bold and forward Madeleine Mumford, the lone senior on the team, were able to get put-backs for the Vikings.
“For their height, they both do a great job on the boards,” DeJonge said.
The Vikings have a young team, but DeJonge said they are a resilient group that has a desire to get better. DeJonge said they try to make practices as game-like as possible to better prepare them for different situations, like using your weak hand or taking a 3-point shot that you weren’t comfortable with before.
“Those kind of things that young teams need to work through,” DeJonge said. “You can’t necessarily teach them in practice, you need to have some game experiences to go alongside it. Hopefully they pick it up, get better and go from there.”
The Bellevue Christian boys got off to such a fast start to the season, that it would be easy to forget that they only have three players with previous varsity experience. The Vikings’ loss to Seattle Christian was a reminder that they are still learning.
After a tightly contested first half, the Warriors pulled away for a convincing victory. When the team was trailing early in the fourth quarter, Bellevue Christian head coach Brandon Kats said his players were trying to get back into the game in one or two possessions even though there was plenty of time left.
“The way you get back into a basketball game is that you get defensive stops and then you get out in transition and get great shots, get to the free throw line and you get easy points,” Kats said. “We went with a bit of a hero-ball mentality. That’s just a young team trying to learn how to come back. Human nature tells you that you have to push and go fast.”
While early season success may have changed some of the expectations for the team, Kats said they still are an inexperienced team with plenty of lessons to learn.
“I think this team got a little ahead of their skis with early season success. Some of our issues were overlooked,” Kats said. “But just to see them winning games, having fun and growing every single day is what we’re trying to do. It’s really cool to see the young guys enjoying this journey.”
Senior forward Malcolm Schiltz led the Vikings with 14 points and junior guard Avery Morgan added nine points, all from beyond the arc.
Kats said that the loss showed the team how difficult league games can be.
“When you get into league play, everything is heightened,” Kats said. “The games mean more, they’re more physical, the scouts are better, everything is heightened. In my opinion, we weren’t ready to match that intensity tonight.”
After the loss, the Vikings had an opportunity to bounce right back the next day on the road against the University Prep Pumas.
The Vikings cruised to a 63-35 victory on Jan. 18 in a non-league game. After the loss to the Warriors, Kats said it is great to get right back onto the court after a loss.
Kats said he has been impressed with how the team enjoys playing with each other and how well they all get along off the court.
“It’s by far the best team chemistry I’ve had,” Kats said. “I think part of it is them being so young, they don’t even think about that stuff, they’re just enjoying playing with their friends.”