BELLEVUE — The pain of her ailing right shoulder tugged Tea Adams one direction.
But the pull of inching closer to a KingCo 3A/2A regular season title was stronger for the freshman floor general of the eighth-ranked Juanita girls basketball team.
The 5-foot-8 Adams returned from a three-game absence despite floating cartilage in her injured right shoulder. Playing through pain she deemed 9.5 out of 10, Adams delivered big time with 22 points as the Rebels socked it to Bellevue, 64-47, on Friday night in a KingCo 3A/2A game.
“It was very frustrating to sit, especially to watch my team struggle a little bit when I was out,” said the right-handed Adams, who wore protective tape on her shoulder. “Right now, its just mental since its nothing serious. I had to get by that.
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“I’ll have to have it scoped after the season to see if I need surgery, but I probably will.”
Adams looked the picture of health in tallying eight points in the third quarter as Juanita (16-1 overall, 10-1 league) cruised to victory. The skilled guard put her team in prime position to claim the KingCo 3A/2A title with three games remaining. The Rebels lead Liberty (8-1) after splitting with the Patriots.
“This game was very big and Bellevue’s been our rival for over four years, so it was a big game,” Adams said. “It hurts a little right now, but we won, so its OK. These are my sisters here I’m playing for.
“If we won this game, we still had a chance to win league, so it was important I play.”
Adams, who hit two three-pointers and scored on an assortment of drives, said this would be her final game before playoffs, choosing to rest her shoulder until then.
“I was cleared on Wednesday (before a 56-46 win over Lake Washington), but I really wasn’t supposed to play and didn’t,” she said. “For tonight, on a pain level, if I was OK, then I could play. For the next two weeks, I’m going to sit out until districts.
“I’m just going to keep rehabbing every day.”
Adams, the teams top scorer at 16.9 points per game, was hardly alone in making a difference.
Another impact freshman, 6-1 Shalexxus Aaron, turned up her game with 17 points, five rebounds and two steals as did 6-3 junior Jaisa Nunn, who supplied 14 points and 12 rebounds. Aaron sank three three-pointers.
Bellevue sophomore Shelby Cansler scored a team-high 19 points, many of which came with teammate and leading scorer Mandy Steward (15.2 ppg) in foul trouble. Steward fouled out with 6:29 left in the game with nine points in limited minutes.
The Rebels seized control in the second quarter, using 21-2 run to turn a slim 13-11 lead into its largest lead to that point at 34-13 late in the second quarter. Juanita scored 14 points in a row at one point, thanks to swarming defense and active hands.
Bellevue went scoreless for 4 minutes during the Rebels tide-turning surge. The Wolverines (12-5, 7-4) couldn’t survive a 9:10 stretch without a field goal that continued over three quarters of play.
Steward ended the drought of field goals with a fastbreak layin with 7:14 left in the third quarter but Bellevue was still trailing 37-19 at that point.
“We wanted to find out where Tea’s pain threshold, so I started her and pulled her out early in the first quarter to see how she was,” Juanita coach Sam Lee. “She said, ‘I can take it if I have a rest every once in a while.’ So every time she came out, I asked her, ‘Have you had enough?’ And she said, ‘No.’
“I said, ‘OK, keep going then.’”
In the first meeting of the season between the schools at Juanita, the Rebels scored a 57-51 win over Bellevue on Jan. 13 and, afterward, Adams injury was discovered. Two days later on Jan. 15, Juanita was outscored 24-14 in the fourth quarter to fall at second-place Liberty 61-54 and halt a 13-game winning streak.
“I was most pleased with our total game focus on both sides of the ball,” Lee said. “We kept coming back and putting it together.”
Bellevue has now lost four in a row, including the first loss to the Rebels. The Wolverines took fifth at state last season, losing twice after reaching the 3A state semifinals.