Dejounte Murray, Shadeed Shabazz and Vincenzo Reiser each had 20 points for the Vikings, who face the winner of the Eastside Catholic-Marsyville-Pilchuck game in a semifinal Friday at 9 p.m.
TACOMA — The Rainier Beach basketball program is no stranger to the state tournament. The Vikings are going for their fourth straight Class 3A title, and have been a premier basketball program for more than a decade.
No. 1 Rainier Beach took a step closer to the championship game Thursday night with a 74-65 win over No. 2 Bellevue to advance to Friday’s semifinals.
But the lack of playoff experience for this particular group showed as the Vikings almost allowed a large fourth-quarter lead to slip away.
“Whole lot of new faces, whole lot of young faces,” Vikings coach Mike Bethea said.
It looked as if Rainier Beach (24-3), which beat Bellevue (23-4) in the Sea-King 3A championship game by 14 points two weeks ago, was going to run away with another one as the Vikings continually found easy looks.
State Hoops 2015Boys:
- 3A, 4A boys team capsules
- Boys brackets
- Rainier Beach cruises in marquee 3A state matchup, beats Bellevue
- Eastside Catholic overcomes shooting woes to pull out 42-35 win over Marysville-Pilchuck
- Garfield wears down Kennedy Catholic, 66-54, in 3A boys quarterfinal
- Collin Welp comes up big for Seattle Prep in emotionally-charged 3A boys quarterfinal
- Union's Riley Hawken has monster game in 4A boys quarterfinal win vs. Issaquah
- Davis edges Richland, plays Woodinville in 4A boys semis
- Woodinville doesn't flinch, rallies for 4A quarterfinal win over Kentwood
- 3A, 4A girls team capsules
- Girls brackets
- Gonzaga Prep knocks off Bothell in 4A state girls quarterfinal
- Bellevue beats Prairie big, in 3A girls semis for third year in a row
- Inglemoor's bigs smother Bellarmine Prep in 4A girls quarterfinals
- Lynnwood on point defensively in 3A girls quarterfinal win vs. West Seattle
- Jadyn Bush, Lily Dipietro lead Blanchet into 3A girls semis
- Jayde Christopher keys Cleveland comeback in 3A girls quarterfinal
What was a 43-40 lead for the Vikings midway through the third all of a sudden quickly turned into a blowout on the strength of a 22-3 run.
“Our offense is hectic in a good way, like it moves around a lot,” senior Vincenzo Reiser said. “We just make them scramble and stuff, so there’s empty areas they don’t even know about.”
The Vikings, who start a freshman and bring inexperienced players off the bench, led by as much as 22 points in the fourth quarter.
Bellevue came roaring back, though, playing at a frenetic pace in a race against the clock. Although the Wolverines, which hadn’t lost a Class 3A game until the defeat to Rainier Beach in the district championship game, made it interesting, they ran out of time.
Reiser feasted on the holes in the Bellevue defense, getting a plethora of easy looks on his way to a 20-point night while shooting 10 of 13 from the field. Dejounte Murray also scored 20 points for Rainier Beach while grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing five assists.
Ivy Smith ran the offense with precision, finishing with 11 assists for the Vikings, who haven’t lost since Jan. 19 against Garfield.
“Really it is they couldn’t run with us,”said Shadeed Shabazz, who also had 20 points. “We rebound, we run, we go.”
Bellevue tried to counter by pounding the ball inside, and forward Mikey Henn took advantage with 17 points, but the Wolverines weren’t extremely efficient, shooting 32.9 percent.
“We were doing a good job of it,” Bellevue coach Chris O’Connor said. “We didn’t finish well, but we were getting good looks. I was happy with our looks.”