The Vikings made history when their football team advanced to the Class 3A state title game in December. It was Beach’s first appearance in school history.

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TACOMA — After a three-month wait, Rainier Beach is back in the state-championship game.

The Vikings made school football history when their team advanced to the Class 3A state-title game in December, losing to O’Dea.

On Friday, the Beach boys basketball team will vie for the title against top-seeded Garfield. Rainier Beach has made 29 boys basketball appearances, winning nine titles, the last being in 2016.

Senior Freddy Roberson is a starter for both sports. He’s signed to play football at Eastern Washington.

“It’s a good feeling,” said Roberson, who had three rebounds in Beach’s 73-67 semifinal win against Lincoln. “I knew I was going to have to be a big piece to the team by either rebounding or getting steals to get it done.

“On social media, I can see everyone’s excited.”

Another Nowell

A popular question when looking over the Eastside Catholic roster is why freshman Shane Nowell is there and not Garfield, where his older brother Jaylen led the Bulldogs to the 2015 Class 3A state title.

Shane said he followed his heart, which was playing for Crusaders coach Brent Merritt. Nowell’s father died in 2015 and Merritt has known the family since Shane was a toddler.

“Big Mike was everything to me,” said Merritt of Nowell’s father, who had cancer.

Nowell is one of three standout freshmen who should contend for a Class 3A state title before graduation. The Crusaders (23-7) will play Lincoln for third place at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday.

“I’ve been telling my guys to watch out for (injured freshman) Isaac Ticeson; he’s going to be better than all of them,” Merritt said. “But we weren’t playing for the future. We wanted to win this one.”