With full stands, a star-studded audience, and top-ranked talent, the Rainier Beach-Garfield Metro championship match-up lived up to the hype, and the teams put on a show to the final minute.
No. 3 Rainier Beach survived No. 1 Garfield’s 18-point comeback to win 84-81 and receive the Vikings’ seventh consecutive Metro title.
“We’ve practiced many times in situations like that,” said guard Ivy Smith, who had 22 points. “They came through. It was a five point game. They started to come back, and we just had to sell ourselves, slow down, and hit the free-throws.”
Not only did Beach (19-3) walk away with a trophy, but the game was a rematch from when Garfield (21-1) beat Rainier Beach in January 84-67.
“This was like our moment of revenge,” Shabazz said. “We’ve been waiting for it. We worked hard beating Prep just so we can get this rematch and prove ourselves.”
With forward Keith Smith out for the season with a knee injury, Rainier Beach needed guys to step up and fill in. In addition to Ivy and Shabazz, guard Dejounte Murray added 16 points. Forward Vincenzo Reiser, who got in foul trouble and sat out the third quarter, chipped in eight.
Garfield opened with a 6-0 lead spearheaded by guard Jaylen Nowell, who finished with 33 points for the Bulldogs. Rainier Beach was behind by just one point after the first quarter, but a 9-0 run pushed Beach ahead 42-30 at the half.
Garfield still trailed Rainier Beach 61-48 after the third quarter, but Nowell, guard Jashaun Agosto, and wing Alfonso Anderson powered the Bulldogs through a 30 point fourth quarter to close the gap to three points. Rainier Beach’s execution got sloppier, not using time on the clock and giving up the ball on unforced turnovers.
“You can’t do that against a good team and expect to win, but a sign of a good team, we found a way to win,” said Rainier Beach coach Mike Bethea, who has won 13 Metro league championships.
On the last play of the game, Garfield had possession, but Nowell missed a three-pointer, and Garfield was unable to reset before the clock ran out.
For Garfield coach Ed Haskins, having Rainier Beach hand the Bulldogs their first loss this season was wake-up call.
“We’re not unbeatable Bulldogs, but we are fallible, and we are penetrable if we allow ourselves to be penetrable,” Haskins said. “There’s nothing to fix, but we continue to work and continue to get better.”
In the first round of district playoffs, Rainier Beach will play the winner of Saturday’s Lakeside-Roosevelt game. Garfield will take on the winner of the Franklin-Lake Washington game.
Last tidbit from a more notable attendee tonight:
High school city basketball is in great hands..Beach/Bulldogs #206
— Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) February 14, 2015