BELLEVUE — The KingCo 3A championship game had finished minutes earlier, but Bellevue coach Chris O’Connor wasn’t all smiles. Despite a 55-49 win over Mercer Island that gave the No. 2 Wolverines the tournament title to go with their regular-season championship, O’Connor saw too many mistakes to be completely content.
“I think we need to get back to practice and iron a couple things out, and hopefully get better here in the next week,” he said.
One of the biggest issues for Bellevue (19-2) on Thursday was an inability to keep the Islanders (16-6) off the offensive glass. O’Connor was surprised the Wolverines struggled to rebound after having worked on it extensively in practice.
In front of a raucous crowd with two lively student sections, Mercer Island took a 43-33 lead in the third quarter on the back of a 14-4 run. Kaleb Warner hit a trio of three-pointers during the run and finished with 17 points, but failed to score in the fourth.
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After a less than desirable third quarter, Bellevue relented from its full-court pressure, instead focusing on getting pressure on shooters and boxing out. The strategy worked and the Wolverines gave up just four points in the fourth.
Gunther Klimes, who struggled from the field throughout the game, hit a pair of free throws with 2:59 left to give Bellevue a 49-47 lead, Dylan Foreman — who had a team-high 13 points — added a bucket and Sharif Khan hit four from the foul line to close out the win.
“Sometimes you’re going to win ugly,” O’Connor said. “At this point, every team you play is a good one. To our guys’ credit, they’re grinding games out. That says a lot about our team.”
Both teams get a first-round bye in districts and will play a Metro League team on Tuesday.