For Chief Sealth coach Ray Willis, a four-point halftime deficit was just what he wanted to see. And for Ophelia Whitfield, it was a chance to show her new team just what she was...

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For Chief Sealth coach Ray Willis, a four-point halftime deficit was just what he wanted to see.


And for Ophelia Whitfield, it was a chance to show her new team just what she was capable of.


The senior guard scored 10 points in less than four minutes to spark a third-quarter comeback, leading the top-ranked Seahawks to a 67-59 nonleague victory over eighth-ranked Bellevue last night in a clash of Class 3A girls basketball powers at Chief Sealth High School.


“Actually, I hate to say this, but I’m glad we were down at halftime,” said Willis, whose Seahawks (8-0) blew out their first seven opponents this season. “I wanted to see how we’d respond. We knew that a test was coming.


“I told them at halftime, ‘These are the kind of games you’re going to see in district and state and we have to see if we can meet that challenge.’ “


Bellevue (5-2) built a 30-26 halftime lead, one that could have been much larger if not for the presence of Regina Rogers, who scored 16 of Sealth’s first-half points. The 6-foot-3 sophomore post player finished with a game-high 20 points to go with seven rebounds, three steals and three assists.


Whitfield opened the scoring in the third quarter, quickly rattling off 10 points during a 14-2 Sealth run. She finished with 15 points after scoring only two in the first half.


“In the first half, I kinda had my head down, but my teammates had confidence in me,” said Whitfield, who transferred from Cleveland this fall. “In the first half we weren’t really ready to play, so we had to step it up in the second half because they came out to play. We weren’t going to lose in our house.”


Once the Chief Sealth scoring binge slowed, Bellevue fought back behind Gretchen Buchberger’s seven third-quarter points, closing the lead to 45-44 to end the quarter. The senior guard led the Wolverines with 14 points.


A Cody Brazen basket put the Wolverines back on top to start the fourth quarter before the teams exchanged leads three more times.


After the Seahawks regained the lead, sophomore forward Christina Nzekwe helped give Sealth a little breathing room with a three-point play, making the score 60-54 with 2:35 to play. Nzekwe scored seven of her 13 points in the game’s last three minutes and finished with 10 rebounds.


“We played a good four quarters, and I think we gave them a little scare,” said Bellevue coach Rebecca Valdivia. “We definitely missed some opportunities, but I think the fact we gave them a game is something to be proud of.”


John Boyle: jboyle@seattletimes.com