Wednesday’s first round game of the state tournament between Rainier Beach and Bellevue seemed to be over almost as soon as it started.
The fifth-ranked Vikings, who won 69-38, trailed 3-1 in the early moments, but used a 19-1 run to close the first quarter to take a 20-4 lead.
The lead only grew from there as Rainier Beach was credited with 12 steals, but it seemed like a lot more.
“We really wanted to focus on staying between our man and the ball and just speeding them up and making them play faster than they wanted to play tonight,” Rainier Beach head coach Mike Bethea said. “And at the same time, on the offensive end when we did set something up, make sure we were running our offense. Those have been our Achilles’ heel all year long, turning the ball over and getting stagnant on offense.”
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Senior N’Kiel Nelson led the Vikings with 20 points, several of which came in transition.
“We get our offense through our defense,” Nelson said. “We can see when somebody doesn’t want to play against us, and once we see that it’s like a dog when he can smell someone that doesn’t like being around him, it’s attack.”
Junior Kevin Porter Jr. also added 15 for the Vikings.
Rainier Beach will play No. 2 Garfield at 9 p.m. in Thursday’s quarterfinals. It will be the fourth meeting between the two teams this season. The first two went to the Bulldogs, but the most recent went to the Vikings.
“It’s not going to be easy, but we feel good,” Bethea said. “We know it’s going to be a hard-fought game, and hopefully we’re on the winning side of it.”