It was a Class 3A boys basketball battle between top 10 teams more than fitting for a bigger stage — say, the Tacoma Dome.
Instead, the second-ranked Bellevue Wolverines and No. 9 Foss Falcons went toe-to-toe in the regional round of the state tournament Saturday night at Bellevue College.
The Falcons had the lead through three quarters over the 3A KingCo champions, but the Wolverines rode Sharif Khan’s big fourth quarter in pulling out a 68-64 victory.
Bellevue (23-3) moves on to the state quarterfinals starting Thursday in Tacoma as Foss (20-7) saw its season end.
The Falcons followed an attack-the-basket blueprint — and hot third-quarter shooting (9 of 12) — to take a 55-50 advantage into the final eight minutes.
The Wolverines also had another issue besides a 5-point deficit when their standout point guard Kyle Foreman picked up his fourth foul just 48 seconds into the final quarter.
That was when Khan took control of the game, scoring seven points in a 51-second span capped by a straightaway 3-pointer that tied the game at 59-all with 5 minutes, 35 seconds to go.
“(Khan) did a good job getting the ball moving,” Bellevue coach Chris O’Connor said.
And suddenly, things that looked so easy for the Falcons’ offense in the third quarter crumbled. They hit a scoreless skid of 4:35, committing three turnovers.
“Offensively we had three straight possessions that were not executed,” Foss coach Mike Cocké said. “And they went down and capitalized.”
Bellevue capped an 11-0 run with Javon Jefferson’s inside bucket with 2:46 to go to give the Wolverines a 65-59 lead.
“I thought we knew what it would take to beat them,” Cocké said. “Hats off to my kids, they went out and played their hearts out.
“They played about as well as they could play for about 30 minutes, but for those two minutes that they didn’t were the difference.”
Sam Dabalos-McMahon led Foss with 23 points — with 11 coming in the third quarter. Mikey Henn led Bellevue with 19 points, with Khan adding 15.
“We believed we were going to win the whole week, so we were not overexcited,” Dabalos-McMahon said. “But they made plays when it counted.”
But when Lincoln fired off streams of 3-point attempts, it fell apart in a regional loss to the Wolverines at Bellevue College.
After the Abes took a brief 30-28 lead in the second half on Nashontae Frazier’s scoop shot in the lane with 2:01 remaining in the third quarter, Bellevue went on a 9-2 run over the final 1:47 to regain the advantage for good.
In the middle of that spurt was standout Shelby Cansler, who tallied seven points. Cansler scored 19 of her game-high 21 points in the second half.
“(Cansler) wasn’t going to let us lose that game,” Bellevue coach Leah Krautter said. “It is hard playing a loser-out game at any point. The girls played a little frantic. But it is what we need … to get us ready for next week.”
Lincoln was 5 of 16 in 3-point shooting. It did not help that Braggs, the 3A Narrows player of the year, was in foul trouble for much of the game.
“We didn’t get our chemistry until late in the season,” Abes coach Jamila Jones said. “When you get that so late, sometimes it is hard to maintain it.
“We have a really good, young varsity team. Sometimes we have to take one of these (losses) to light a fire.”