The unranked Eagles upset No. 6 Seattle Prep 53-50 in the title game, two days after it beat No. 2 West Seattle in the semifinals.
Jazzeem Bethea could hear Seattle Prep’s locker-room cheers.
In an adjacent locker room with her Cleveland teammates, each yelp pumped the senior guard up more and more. When it came time to play for the Metro League girls basketball championship Friday, Bethea was ready to help the Eagles clinch the title with a 53-50 win at Seattle Pacific University’s Royal Brougham Pavilion.
It’s the Eagles’ second upset victory of the tournament. Cleveland (14-5) handed second-ranked West Seattle its first in-state loss of the season on Wednesday.
“We came to crash the party,” Bethea said. “It’s really good being the underdog, you get doubted. They (Prep) were down in the locker room turning up and we were focused. We knew that they were going to come in here thinking that it’s easy and that was our chance to hit them while they were sleep.”
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Bethea outscored No. 6 Prep (16-3) on her own in the first quarter, finishing with 13 points to Prep’s nine. Panthers, led by junior Bea Franklin, trailed 32-27 at the break.
A layup by Cleveland senior Dominique Bungay with 3:01 left in the game gave the Eagles a nine-point lead (51-42), which was the largest of the game. She finished with a game-high 21 points.
But a Franklin layup and three-pointers from Molly Moffitt and Helen Sauvage brought Seattle Prep within 51-50 with 27 seconds left in the game.
Cleveland sealed the win with a pair of free throws by junior guard Resheal Spikes with 6.5 seconds on the clock.
“We got a little rattled,” said Moffitt, who finished with 12 points. “They wanted it really bad and came out with a lot of intensity. I give them a lot of credit for that. They played a great match.”
Bethea finished with 15. Franklin had a team-high 19 points.
The league title is Cleveland’s first since 2014, when it won its second of back-to-back Class 3A state championships. Coach Jamie Redd, a former Seattle Storm guard, took over the program in 2015.
“This is pretty much my class that I had when I started,” said Redd, whose team advances along with Prep to the Class 3A SeaKing District tournament next week. “Now they’ve developed and it’s nice to see them go out with a championship.
“I told them that we’ve got to make sure we peak at the right time. Fortunately for us, we’re doing that. This is a fighting group. This is a very resilient group and they work extremely hard.”