High School Sports

Seattle Prep 58, Bellevue 43: Panthers knock out defending champs

It’s now a guarantee that a new girls basketball champion will be crowned in the Class 3A ranks this weekend.

That is because Seattle Prep, which was in the state finals in 2013, ended Bellevue’s championship reign with a 58-43 state loser-out victory Wednesday in the Tacoma Dome.

Chine Ezeonu led the Panthers (21-7) with 24 points. Bea Franklin added 23. The duo combined to go 19-of-31 from the floor.

“The thing about this group, they play hard and they play together,” Seattle Prep coach Michelle Hall said.

This tight game swung in the Panthers’ favor for good in the third quarter, mainly on a hot shooting start – Seattle Prep made its first four field goal attempts – and an extended defensive stand. The Wolverines went 4:50 span without scoring.

And with the fans chanting down the final seconds, then came the never-stop-hustling final sequence.

Ezeonu put up a shot just inside midcourt than bounced high off the glass. But teammate Marie Hauck, a 6-foot-2 ninth grader, got downcourt for a rebound – and the ball came right to her in the key.

Hauck stroked in a 10-foot shot right at the buzzer to give the Panthers a 40-32 lead after three quarters.

“I just kind of chucked it up,” Hauck said. “I didn’t know it was going in.”

And when it went in?

“I didn’t think it was in time,” Hauck said. “But it hyped everyone up, and made everyone give that extra effort in the fourth quarter.”

Ezeonu’s putback of a Franklin miss gave the Panthers a 53-39 lead with 3:24 remaining.