King’s advanced to the state tournament with a 34-30 tense win over No. 8 Bellevue Christian despite letting a five-point fourth-quarter lead nearly slip away.
BELLEVUE — Daylee Hanson felt like she and her King’s High School girls basketball team missed a few chances early to decide the outcome of Friday night’s class 1A, loser-out regional girls basketball game.
But the Knights didn’t miss the ultimate opportunity. King’s advanced to the state tournament with a 34-30 tense win over No. 8 Bellevue Christian despite letting a five-point fourth-quarter lead nearly slip away.
In doing so, the Knights stayed alive to make a run at a state title repeat.
Hanson, one of three starters back from King’s Class 1A state championship team last season, supplied 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals as the school earned its sixth state berth in a row. King’s got the job done, but not without some odd twists and missed chances to put the game away earlier.
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“It was just one of those games, because it was loser-out,” said Hanson, a senior who has signed to play at the University of Idaho. “Everybody’s just really nervous, and that’s why some random lay-ins don’t go.
“Both of our teams are really competitive and I think that had something to do with it.”
King’s (19-5) survived a crazy sequence at the end that gave Bellevue Christian (20-3) a last chance to tie the game, but Vikings’ guard Rachel Berg shot a lean-in three-pointer and it wedged between the backboard and rim with 8.8 seconds left. Alternating possession went to the Knights, who lost a jump ball with 15.7 seconds showing when a King’s inbounds allowed BC’s Sperry McQuaid to tie up Hannah Echelbarger and give the Vikings the ball because they had the possession arrow.
With her team ahead 33-28, Hanson helped give Bellevue Christian another chance to trim the lead with 1:17 by dribbling the ball out of bounds. Hanson was fussing with her headband and listening to her coach Dan Taylor and lost the ball.
“That was rough,” Hanson admitted.
That was the start of a helter-skelter final stretch. And, it looked like all the breaks might be going BC’s way.
“Maybe it was the nervous jitters or the loser-out like the finality of it all and everything,” said Taylor, King’s seventh-year coach. “But I think our girls gritted it out. We had to earn every bucket. I told them coming in that Bellevue Christian is going to make you execute and earn every bucket.
“It was going to come down to some officiating, too and whether we were going to get a call or not.”
King’s already has four state titles, winning in 1997, 2005, 2006 and 2015. Nine players are back from last season’s championship squad including three senior starters in Hanson, Kendall Adams and Anna Parker.
“That [experience] gave us a bit of an edge and now-or-never kind of attitude,” Taylor said. “There was a little of nerves too, and not wanting to be the team that didn’t make it [to state]. It’s hard to follow [a state championship]. We have a lot of expectations.”
Parker finished with nine points and helped keep the Vikings at arm’s reach late, sinking 3 of 4 free throws in a 31-second span inside the 2:25 mark of the fourth quarter. Parker made 2 of 2 foul shots with 1:54 left to hike the Knights’ lead to 33-28.
The Vikings’ Jessica Berg scored on a rebound lay-in with 20.9 seconds showing to cut the gap to 33-30. Hanson sank the first of two free throws with 8.5 seconds to go for the final margin after Rachel Berg’s potential tying three-pointer.
Sophomore Nicole Bloch tallied 10 points for BC.
Bellevue Christian reached state last season, but exited 0-2 and now the Vikings must wait another season to pursue a state berth. The Vikings last reached the state quarterfinals in 2011 and last made a state championship game in 2006.
The Knights opened a 10-2 lead in the opening 6:42, thanks to stifling defense. Bellevue Christian got one layin, otherwise lanes to the hoops were closed off.
The Vikings got after it on defense in the second quarter and flipped the script, outscoring King’s 10-2 to go into halftime even.