BELLEVUE — After the 3A regional basketball game Saturday afternoon Rainier Beach coach Mike Bethea had an ice pack wrapped around his left leg. He and his No. 1-ranked Vikings took a lot more of a beating than most people expected on the court at Bellevue College.
It was a brave effort and a much better result than a year ago when the Vikings coasted to a 36-point win at the same stage of the state playoffs, but No. 9 Glacier Peak succumbed again to Rainier Beach 69-59.
Grizzlies coach Brian Hunter still beamed after the game.
“To be down 19 in the third and bring it back to two in the third quarter,” Hunter said. “There’s not many teams that could do that against a team that is arguably the best team in the state regardless of classification.”
Beach defeated one of the top 4A teams, Bothell, during the regular season and only matched up with GP Saturday thanks to a minor upset loss to Lakeside in the District 2 title game.
The Vikings looked like the defending state champs early, building a 44-25 lead early in the third quarter after starting the half on a 6-0 scoring spurt.
After the teams traded buckets for a few minutes, Zach Pederson — the Glacier Peak all-time leading scorer and rebounder — hit a pair of free throws to jumpstart a surprising 16-0 GP spurt in the final 3:42 of the third quarter.
Dreu Vader, who shot 11-for-12 from the free throw line and finished with 18 points, closed the quarter with a steal and layin at the buzzer that stirred the Grizzlies students into a frenzy behind the visitor bench.
“We did something which most people would think was crazy ? we did some trapping and we tried to pressure them,” said Hunter, who used just a seven-man rotation for much of the night against an RB team that went 10 deep. “If nothing else it freed up our kids to think, ‘You know what? Lets go play’ and I think that’s a big part of it, getting over that hurdle of: Can we play with these guys?”
Shaqquan Aaron knocked much of the wind out of the Grizzlies full blown sails three minutes into the fourth quarter hitting a deep 3 to push the lead back to 55-48 — it never got closer. The junior, a verbal committ to Louisville, led the balanced Vikings with 15 points on 4-of-7 shooting. Four other Vikings had at least 8 points, while only five Grizzlies scored.
Ultimately, the inside game was the difference and the Vikings were allowed too many offensive rebounds. Ranier Beach outrebounded the Grizzlies 36-30 overall and 18-9 on the offensive end. Elijah Foster (eight points) and Jordan King (13) both had 10 rebounds. Pederson (15 points) was best for GP with nine rebounds.
“This game was won inside, period,” Bethea said. “As far as I’m concerned.”
Ramsey Rosales hit four 3s and led all scorers with 19 points. He tried to pull the Grizzlies back after Pederson fouled out in the fourth quarter, but the Vikings held GP at arm’s length and advanced to play in the Tacoma Dome next week.
“Glacier Peak was a team that wanted to get to state,” Bethea said. “They came out and they played hard. I give them all the credit.”
It was the last hurrah for six GP seniors, including Vader, Rosales, Pederson and Mitchl Pohrman who have been playing together since fourth grade.
“We competed,” Pederson said “The end of the third quarter; I’ll never forget that ? It was a lot of fun.”
It’s not the end of competitive basketball for Pederson and Vader who expect to play somewhere in college next season, but it is for two-year starter Austin Kiser, bench-player Russell Anderson and Pohrman, whom Hunter called, “the best defender in school history”.
The loss of Pederson will especially be felt by the GP staff, but not for the most obvious reason.
“He’s the most humble selfless teammate that I’ve ever been around,” Hunter said. “He’s never once tried to bring any glory or spotlight on himself ever. I’ll miss that with him.”
At Bellevue College
Glacier Peak 15 10 21 13 — 59
Rainier Beach 19 19 10 21 — 69
Glacier Peak—Kjellesvik 2, Vader 18, Kiser 0, Rosales 19, Pederson 15, Pohrman 5, Chambers 0. Rainier Beach—Ladd 3, Dorsey 2, Davis 14, King 13, Miller 0, Piper 10, Foster 8, Niles 0, Aaron 15, Murray 4. 3-point goals—Rosales 4, Aaron 2, Davis 2, Ladd 1, Vader 1. Records—Glacier Peak 19-6 overall. Rainier Beach 22-4.