Stingy defense propelled the Bellevue Wolverines girls basketball team to a convincing victory against Mercer Island.
Bellevue, who surrendered just nine field goals throughout the duration of the game, cruised to a 53-19 win against Mercer Island in a matchup between KingCo 3A rivals on Jan. 3 in Bellevue. The Wolverines improved their overall record to 9-2 with the win. Mercer Island dropped to 2-4 with the loss. Bellevue senior guard Annika Prins scored a game-high 21 points and hit five three-pointers against the Islanders. Prins scored 11 of the Wolverines 18 points in the first quarter.
“Annika is not only our vocal leader, she is the heart and soul of the team,” Bellevue head coach Noah Wulbert said. “We go as she goes. She is the person we look to that keeps us fired up and keeps us going.”
Bellevue sophomore guard Eva Richards chipped in 11 points as well. Wulbert was impressed with his team’s defensive showing against Mercer Island. Wulbert said team defense has been a focal point of practices since surrendering 72 points to the Liberty Patriots on Dec. 6. Even though the Wolverines were victorious (75-72) against Liberty, Wulbert and the coaching staff were determined to shore up the defense immediately.
“We noticed in that game we were not playing really good pick and roll defense,” he said. “We’ve really worked on trying to trap the ball a little more, rotate and just communicate with each other.”
Mercer Island head coach Gillian d’Hondt remained upbeat despite the defeat to Bellevue. The Islanders, who won the Class 3A state championship last season, have just two players from last year’s team on the roster during the 2017-18 season.
“We’re young and the only way we can go is up from here,” d’Hondt said. “We’re working on the fundamentals and just being comfortable with the ball. We’re trying to continue to step up the intensity. We’re looking forward and we’ll just keep working hard.”
The Wolverines are committed to clinching yet another berth at the Class 3A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome this March.
“Our goal right now is to just get to state,” Wulbert said. “It is a long road and there are a lot of good teams in front of us. The Metro (League) is solid and Redmond (current KingCo 3A first place team) is really good this year. We’re just trying to get better every day and see if we can make a sixth straight run to state.”