Bellarine Prep lost to Kentridge more than a month ago.
But from then on, the Lions girls basketball team has come alive in their first run through the 4A South Puget Sound League.
“They (Kentridge) hit a last-second shot to win that game, and that was a tough way to lose that game, but for the girls it was a thing that ‘We can compete with anybody,’” Bellarmine coach Kevin Meines said.
Since then, Bellarmine (14-1, 11-0) has rifled off a 12-game winning streak that was extended with their 51-41 home win over Rogers (9-5, 7-3) Tuesday night.
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The win helps Bellarmine Prep reach one step closer to their first 4A SPSL league title in their first season in their new league, widening its margin atop the league standings as both Rogers and Curtis both have three league losses.
“It’s exciting and we’re still getting better as a team. We started a little sluggish, but we’re finishing out strong,” said Shalyse Smith who made her return after missing the last two weeks.
Smith’s return proved to be a boon for Bellarmine as coach Meines had to dig deep into his bench for his Lions team to pick up the season sweep of the Rams.
For much of the game, Bellarmine’s standout sophomore Reyelle Frazier (17 points) carried the Lions offense while Smith shook off the rust as she made her return to the court.
But late in the third, a scary moment took place as Frazier and Rogers’ KC Catey both hustled for a loose ball, and on the resulting play, both players crashed in the head-to-head collision that left both Frazier and Catey lying on the ground for several minutes.
Frazier got up under her own power but did not return, while Catey had to be helped off the court.
“We had that sense about it that Reyelle was playing well, we can’t have the rest of the girls be spectators,” Meines said. “With players like Reyelle and Shalyse (Smith), it’s easy to watch them play. The message during the timeout was to get everyone involved.”
Bellarmine at the time held onto a 36-29 lead which they carried into the fourth.
With Frazier out, Pepperdine commit and Rogers top player Jessie Westering (11 points, nine rebounds) began to help the Rams claw back into the game.
“Yesterday, I told my coach I wanted to guard her (Westering),” Smith said. “People come in wanting to stop me, and I want to go out and stop their best players.”
For the first 25 minutes, Smith proved too tall of an order for Westering as the Lions center held Rogers’ top player to two points on 0-for-4 shooting from the field.
Westering had a turnaround in the fourth as she scored nine consecutive points for Rogers offense as the Rams trailed the Lions 43-41 with 2 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the game.
As Rogers defense forced tough shots and turnovers on the Lions, Smith put her Bellarmine teammates on her back by swatting away two of her game-high five blocks.
“Foul trouble hurt us in the game and No. 10 (Smith) hurt us today on defense,” Rogers coach Amy Looker said.
Bellarmine used Rogers’ foul trouble to close out the win as Lions guard Jenny Hagle was able to close out the game shooting 6 for 8 from the free-throw line in the final 1:20.
“When you play those tough teams. Those teams like Kentridge, Curtis and Rogers, it only makes you better later on,” Meines said. “And tonight was a tough game.”