TACOMA – Let’s hope the Bishop Blanchet girls basketball team saved a little something for Saturday.
Because it sure looked the Braves emptied the tank on Friday.
Firing on all cylinders, inside and out, Blanchet rode the hot hand of freshman Jayden Bush and moved one win from the school’s third state title with an impressive 65-55 victory over ninth-ranked Wilson on Friday night in the Class 3A state semifinal in the Tacoma Dome.
But it wasn’t really that close.
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Blanchet, which pulled its starters gradually in the final five minutes with a 28-point lead, was last at state in 2004 when it took fifth place. The Braves won 3A state titles in 1995 and 1996 and were runners-up in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
This will be the school’s sixth championship game, thanks in big part to the 5-foot-11 Bush, who piled up 22 points on 7-of-10 field-goal shooting and eight rebounds.
“Honestly, as a freshman I didn’t see us ever going to the state championship, and it’s one of the greatest feelings,” said Blanchet senior guard Caitlyn Dixon, who had 11 points, five assists and two steals. “I can’t wait. I’ve been going to these games since like third grade, and now to finally be able to play in one is indescribable.”
The victory gives the Braves (24-4) the reward of facing 3A Metro League power and defending 3A state champion Cleveland (26-2). Blanchet lost to 3A’s top-ranked team in state twice in the regular season, falling hard 75-37 on Jan. 8 at home and 65-50 on the road on Feb. 14.
“Early on, we were still a pretty young team, and by the time the Metro League championships came, we were a little bit older, wiser and smarter,” said Blanchet coach Bryan Willison, who won a 4A title as an assistant with Roosevelt in 2004. “We competed with them, but they’re still a tough team. We just hope to give them a game (Saturday) night.”
The all-Metro final is becoming common in 3A girls basketball. This is the seventh time overall that two Metro teams have faced off for the crown, the third time in five seasons and the second year in a row.
Cleveland beat Seattle Prep 45-43 in overtime last season.
Wilson (20-6) meets fifth-ranked Bellevue (22-7) in a rematch of last year’s third-fifth place contest. Wilson beat the Wolverines 51-30 to claim third place last season.
Blanchet kept on executing on offense and built a 60-32 lead with 7:48 to play in the game. The Rams reeled off seven consecutive points to cut the margin to 21 points and then kept coming when Willison emptied his bench.