Rainier Beach's boys and Holy Names' girls ran away with Metro League championships with convincing basketball victories in the tournament finals.
Rainier Beach was happy to wait. Their guards moved around the perimeter, the ball buzzing back and forth, as the Vikings waited, again and again, for the best shot.
Methodically, second-ranked Rainier Beach edged farther and farther away from Chief Sealth until they left Brougham Pavilion Friday night with a 51-34 victory and the Metro League boys basketball championship.
And so the wait was over.
This latest Metro League title was almost a year in the making. That’s how long the Vikings (19-3) had to ponder last year’s disappointing finish — for Rainier Beach, not placing at the state tournament qualifies — which included a loss in the Metro championship game.
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“I definitely didn’t want that feeling again,” senior guard Jaamon Echols of the Vikings said.
Without the certified Division I-bound standout that had highlighted so many Vikings teams in the recent past, Rainier Beach learned to play together this season.
“To have that, that’s going to take you a lot further than being really talented,” coach Mike Bethea said. “This year, we’re doing it without that dominant superstar. It means they rely on the fact that they have to get the best shot possible.”
That’s not to say the Vikings, winners of 14 straight, don’t have talent. Echols, a two-year starter, scored 18 on Friday. Versatile guard Hikeem Stewart added 10. And a stable of long-armed forwards, who combined for five blocks against Chief Sealth, protected the basket.
“If they get their hands up, it makes all the difference in the world,” Bethea said. “We’re able to shrink the court.”
No. 10 Chief Sealth (14-8) lost for only the second time in 11 games, both losses against Beach.
Sealth coach Colin Slingsby “has those kids playing really, really well,” Bethea said. “You’re not going to outwork them, but we tried to match them.”
Holy Names 64, Seattle Prep 51
Holy Names, which lost the Metro title game last season, ran away with the league championship to extend its winning streak to 13. The top-ranked Cougars also won the league’s No. 1 seed in next week’s Sea-King District tournament.
“We’ve set some higher goals,” Holy Names coach Lee Adams said. “This is the first step.”
Versatile junior Erika Johnson’s 16 points led four Holy Names players with 10 or more points. Johnson, who plays point guard, wing and forward, also had seven rebounds and five steals. The Cougars (20-2) had 18 steals, a large part of Seattle Prep’s 28 turnovers.
“That’s a lot of what we try to do: turn people over,” Adams said.
Junior Kari Luttinen led Seattle Prep (14-7) with 27 points. Luttinen made 15 of 17 free throws.