West Seattle’s Nate Pryor took over, after a slow start, in a 62-44 win over Ballard. They’ll face Nathan Hale, again, in the district semifinals.
Some of the best 3A boys basketball teams in the state reside in the Metro League — Rainier Beach, Garfield, and of course, Nathan Hale, the top-ranked team in the state and the country.
It’s time to add West Seattle to that list.
The Wildcats clinched a berth in the regional round of the state playoffs with a 62-44 victory over Ballard in the quarterfinals of the SeaKing District Tournament on Tuesday at Chief Sealth High School.
“Getting to regionals in our district is quite an accomplishment and something we’ve been talking about all year, obviously,” West Seattle head coach Keffrey Fazio said. “I think most teams map out the season, you want to do well in your league and then you want to do well in the Metro tournament. Getting out of our district is challenging, so getting that regional berth tonight was huge.”
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The Wildcats used a 10-0 run to start the game and an 11-0 run to end the second quarter to take a 25-18 lead at halftime. That lead grew to 20 by the end of the third quarter.
“I was curious to see how we were going to start this game,” Fazio said. “This is a big game, it’s a winner-to-state game, so there are so many things that they’re dealing with, with the environment and the expectation. I was really happy that we started the way we did. We did exactly what we talked about doing to start the game.”
In between the run to start the game and the run to end the half, Fazio wasn’t as pleased with what he saw.
“I wish we would’ve sustained that (momentum) a little bit longer in the first quarter, but credit to Ballard, they’re a scrappy team and they hung in there,” he said.
After being held scoreless for nearly the first 14 minutes of the game, senior guard Nate Pryor took over in the final minutes of the first half. He scored the final seven points in the half, including a three-pointer with one second remaining.
“I started a little slow, but my team got going,” Pryor said. “If I’m starting slow, if I’m not doing my thing, then I’m going to get my teammates involved, and that happened and we got the W.”
Pryor added 10 more points in the third quarter to finish with a game-high 17.
“He’s special,” Fazio said. “He’s a true point guard of the basketball game. He really controls our team. He’s awesome, really run to coach and makes my job very easy sometimes. In a game like this, his senior year, captain and first-team all-league, I wouldn’t expect anything less than to come out here and kind of make this happen.”
Senior forward Yusuf Mohamed also chipped in 16 points for the Wildcats.
The loss derailed a great run for Ballard, which had won four of five to get to this point after going 1-14 in league play. The Beavers will try to keep their season alive on Friday in a loser-out game at Bellevue College.
The Wildcats, on the other hand, will get another shot at Nathan Hale in the district semifinals on Thursday. West Seattle lost 72-59 to the Raiders last week, but led by as many as nine in the game.
“If we see Hale, we’re ready,” Fazio said.
Nathan Hale 85, Eastside Catholic 39
Nathan Hale, the state and the nation’s top-ranked team, rolled over Eastside Catholic in the quarterfinals of the SeaKing District Tournament at Chief Sealth High School on Tuesday.
The Raiders move on to the state regionals with the win and will face West Seattle in the district semifinals on Thursday. Eastside Catholic will play a loser-out game on Friday at Bellevue College.
Senior Michael Porter Jr. led Nathan Hale with 37 points, including a perfect 9 for 9 from the free-throw line. Senior O’Landa Baker led the Crusaders with 10 points.
GIRLS SEAKING DISTRICT QUARTERFINALS
Mercer Island 64, Rainier Beach 55
Mercer Island held off a late rally by Rainier Beach in the quarterfinals of the SeaKing District Tournament at Sealth.
The Islanders, who advance to the regional round of the state playoffs with the win, led by as many as 20 in the fourth quarter. The Vikings’ press helped cut the deficit to five in final minute, but the Islanders made three of their final four free throws to preserve the win.
Senior post Anna Luce led the Islanders with 23 points, and junior point guard Claire Mansfield chipped in 14. Senior guard Nirae Petty led the Vikings with 18.
Bishop Blanchet 69, Cleveland 30
The No. 1-ranked Bishop Blanchet Braves cruised over Cleveland in the quarterfinals of the SeaKing District Tournament at Sealth. The Braves, who were led by the 21 points of Jadyn Bush, are on to the regional round of the state tournament, while the Eagles will play a loser-out game against Rainier Beach on Friday at Bellevue College.