Collin Welp has played and watched a lot of basketball. In that sense, Seattle Prep’s Class 3A state quarterfinal game against Metro League rival Lakeside was normal.
His father, University of Washington’s all-time leading scorer Christian Welp, died Sunday of apparent heart failure. So Seattle Prep coach Mike Kelly said normal was exactly what they were hoping this game might provide.
“Obviously, that’s not going to happen,” Kelly said. “But within the pockets of grief and sorrow it’s really important that he can just kind of do something. Basketball was that something to do.”
Welp was pulled with 4.7 seconds remaining as Seattle Prep was on its way to its 63-51 victory. He got a standing ovation from all those there to witness it, including the student section the opposite side of the Seattle Prep bench clad in school T-shirts with “40” on the back — Welp’s jersey number.
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He got a hug from teammate and fellow sophomore Aaron Nettles and then took a seat at the end of the bench.
Welp was key in the Panthers win, scoring a team-high 13 points for the Panthers, including 2 of 3 shooting from the 3-point line, with five rebounds and six assists.
“He just played a great game,” Kelly said. “He hit a huge 3 at the start of the third quarter. I thought despite his circumstances he might have been the best playing on the court tonight.”
Kelly said that the team didn’t change things up this week, trying to keep practices as normal as possible.
“We acknowledged what was going on and I think after that I told Collin to get down in a stance and start defending somebody,” Kelly said.
“It’s been an extremely tough, emotional week,” Seattle Prep senior Jack Stewart said. “It’s been a tough week for everyone on our team. But it’s been extremely helpful that we had this extra week of practices to keep us together and make sure we are all together to support each other.”
BELLEVUE’S BAD LUCK
It placed second in the gauntlet that was the 3A Sea-King district tournament, losing only to three-time defending state champ Rainier Beach in the title game and won a state regional game over Foss. And who did Bellevue face in the state quarterfinals Thursday?
Three-time defending state champion Rainier Beach.
The second-ranked Wolverines lost to top-ranked Beach, 74-65, to head into the consolation bracket.
“I don’t understand how the drawings are done,” Bellevue coach Chris O’Connor said. “I think there is a better way to do it, but it is what it is.
“Once we drew Rainier Beach, we started preparing and that’s all we could do.”
Bellevue has lost two in-state game this season — both against Rainier Beach.
It’s all Metro League in the 3A state semifinals.
The only Metro League team not to advance — Lakeside — lost to another Metro League team: Seattle Prep.
Eastside Catholic looked like it might lose to the only non-King County team in this tournament — Marysville-Pilchuck — but took a late lead and held on for the win to face Rainier Beach.
Garfield beat Kennedy Catholic to face Seattle Prep.