Behind a brilliant fourth-quarter defensive effort, Bellevue erased a 10-point deficit to beat No. 3 Garfield 67-62 and advance to the Sea-King 3A tournament title game, knocking off one of Metro’s best teams. In the girls semifinals, Bellevue edged Cleveland.

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BELLEVUE – No. 1 Bellevue believed it belonged with the top boys teams in Class 3A, despite playing in a weak KingCo 3A/2A conference. On Thursday, the Wolverines proved it.

Behind a brilliant fourth-quarter defensive effort, Bellevue erased a 10-point deficit to beat No. 3 Garfield 67-62 and advance to the Sea-King 3A tournament title game, knocking off one of Metro’s best teams.

The Wolverines will play Rainier Beach Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Bellevue College.

“I think we definitely made a statement tonight and we’re definitely one of the best teams in the state, if not the best,” said Zack Moore, who had 22 points, including the tying and go-ahead buckets.

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Bellevue slowly crawled back from a 56-46 deficit after three quarters. With 2:30 left, Moore finished an easy layup in transition to tie the game, 60-60. After a Garfield miss on the ensuing possession, Moore nailed a three-pointer to give the Wolverines their first lead since early in the third.

Garfield’s Jaylen Nowell, who finished with 24 points, finally ended a 19-4 Bellevue run with 8.6 seconds left to cut the deficit to 65-62. Sharif Khan hit a pair of free throws, though, to put the game out of reach.

“They’re confident kids, as it is, and they’re an experienced group of kids,” Bellevue coach Chris O’Connor said. The Wolverines put Gunther Klimes on Nowell in a box-and-one after the Garfield sophomore’s scoring burst in the third quarter, and it seemed to confound the Bulldogs, who scored just six points in the fourth. Klimes also came up huge offensively, with 22 points.

Rainier Beach 87, Seattle Prep 59

No. 2 Rainier Beach made quick work of No. 5 Seattle Prep to earn a spot in the Sea-King 3A championship game. Dejounte Murray scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished 10 assists for the Vikings. Ivy Smith also had 19 points for Rainier Beach, while adding 10 assists, six rebounds and six steals.

Aaron Nettles led Seattle Prep with 15 points, but worked through foul trouble most of the night. The Panthers face Garfield in the third-place game Saturday.

Bellevue girls 59, Cleveland 44

Bellevue never quite knows where it stands against Metro teams until the Sea-King 3A tournament. The past two years, the Cleveland girls have shown the reigning KingCo 3A/2A champions that they weren’t ready to run with the top of Metro. Third time’s the charm.

Bellevue built an early lead and extinguished any hope of a late Cleveland comeback to move on to the Sea-King 3A tournament final. The Wolverines next play Juanita Saturday at 8:15 p.m. at Bellevue College.

“Cleveland’s always been an intimidating team for us, just because of their energy, the crowd noise, the bench noise, the girls play really hard, they have a couple players really difficult to stop one-on-one,” Bellevue coach Leah Krautter said. “But we came in confident, and it feels good to get that one behind us.”

Shelby Cansler scored 10 of her team-high 20 points in the first quarter, most of those coming on fast breaks.

Juanita 51, West Seattle 48

West Seattle’s comeback bid fell short after it was unable to secure a rebound after Juanita missed the front end of a one-and-one in the waning seconds.

Tea Adams scored a game-high 30 points for Juanita. Emily Fiso scored 21 points for West Seattle, which faces Cleveland in the third-place game.