FIRST REPORT, 4:59 PM: We’re back in Bellevue at Sammamish High School, where the West Seattle High School girls have just won a hard-fought victory over Bellevue HS in a district semifinal game, 54-46. Regulation ended with a 42-42 tie, after the Wildcats trailed for much of the game – but they dominated in the extra four minutes. Next up, the district championship game at Bellevue College on Saturday night, 8:15 pm, against the winner of tonight’s Garfield-Cleveland game. Photos and details from today’s game later!
ADDED PHOTOS AND DETAILS, 11:04 PM: The Wildcat girls needed a while to figure Bellevue out. The Wolverines leaped out to a 7-0 lead before WSHS #32 Meghan Fiso netted her team’s first entry on the scoreboard after one and three-quarters minutes.
She topped the points totals for West Seattle, with 16, and helped them break through at some key moments – at 3:10 to go in the first quarter, her first three-pointer tied the score at 10-all. But in general, in the early going, the Wildcats had trouble with everything from outside shooting to rebounding to defense – it seemed Bellevue often had somebody unguarded and perfectly in place for an assist. Or, they were right there when a momentary loss of ball control provided an opportunity. #21 Julianna Horne followed Fiso’s three with one of her own and that gave WSHS the lead at 13-10. Seven unanswered Bellevue points followed, though, and the Wolverines led 17-13 at the end of the first quarter. They kept the lead throughout the second quarter and went into the locker room at halftime ahead 25-17.
As the second half got going, West Seattle had stepped up its usually relentless defense, playing Bellevue closer than before. Both benches were intensely engaged, too, with not only cheers for successes but cheers for opponents’ fouls or losses of possession. But in this quarter, shooting was the weakest spot for the Wildcats – too many outside shots taken and missed. They, to be sure, were forcing Bellevue to try from outside, too. But things looked a bit bleak when they reached the midpoint in the third quarter and still hadn’t made up ground, Bellevue leading 30-21 after a three-pointer at 3:23 to go in the third, then adding a basket half a minute later to go up by 11 points.
That could have been the turning point. But WSHS #11 Jasmine Gayles wasn’t going to let it happen. She got a foul shot and a basket, along the way to being the team’s second-leading scorer of the day with 11.
Before the quarter ended, #4 Kelsey Lenzie – who fouled out in the OT period – snared a big three-pointer and that closed the gap to five going into the 4th quarter, which Fiso started for the Wildcats with two baskets, as she and her teammates suddenly caught fire, while the Wolverines went cold.
A clutch three-pointer by #24 Anissa Babitu (number-three WSHS scorer with 9) tied it up 34-34 with 5:30 to go in the game, and that was key, along with a Fiso three that followed.
The next few minutes were nailbiters, with ties, one=point leads for each side … Bellevue was up 39-37 with a minute and a half to go and then Gayles’ big three-pointer put the Wildcats ahead again, 40-39.
But by regulation’s end it was 42-42 – and four extra minutes would determine who made it to the district championship game. Those extra minutes were dominated by the Wildcats, with back-to-back threes from Gayles and Lenzie giving them a relatively quick six-point lead. The Wolverines never got close, and WSHS triumphed, 54-46. We now know who they’ll play Saturday night – Cleveland, which edged WSHS by three points in the Metro semifinals, but lost to the Wildcats by 10 points a week earlier.