Sometimes sloppy gets the job done.
In a rematch of last year’s 3A boys basketball state championship, No. 1 Rainier Beach beat No. 2 Eastside Catholic 64-51, but Vikings head coach Mike Bethea would probably be the first to say his team didn’t play up to its potential.
“The bottom line is you don’t want to be peaking at midseason but you don’t want to see some of the mistakes you’ve been making at the beginning of the year in a game like this,” he said.
Eastside Catholic and Rainier Beach played each other four times last season, including the Metro and state championships. The difference on Tuesday, though, was that the Crusaders were without senior guard Mandrell Worthy. He’s now missed the last four games with a high ankle sprain.
In his absence, Eastside’s head coach, Bill Liley, said he tried to keep the sets pretty basic offensively.
“This was very vanilla tonight but we challenged the kids to take the game plan that we gave them and come out here and play their best and give themselves a chance to win the game,” he said.
To start the night, Rainier Beach went on a 8-0 run, followed by the Crusaders scoring nine straight. In the first quarter alone, there were five lead changes (four more in the second quarter).
The Vikings finally grabbed the lead for good in the third, though, finishing the quarter on a 16-4 run.
Murray and Eastside Catholic’s Matisse Thybulle are both part of the next University of Washington recruiting class. Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar was even in attendance Tuesday.
In the first half, Murray and Thybulle guarded each other. Murray had seven points through two quarters, Thybulle six. But they finished the game with 26 and 21 points, respectively.
Regardless of the fact they’ll be teammates next year, Murray made one thing clear:
Despite finishing with 21, Thybulle was 1-of-10 on three-point attempts and 6-of-15 from the field overall.
“I think Matisse would tell you this isn’t one of his best nights but our senior leader will definitely play better next time, I’m sure.”
Beach played the second half without junior guard Keith Smith, who had a right knee injury. He had surgery on the knee in the offseason. Bethea said that “something popped” in the knee.
“You’re talking about our second best player and we don’t have him,” he said of Smith. “So someone is going to have to step up.”
Bethea didn’t give a time table for Smith’s injury, but the Vikings may have to go without him Friday against Cleveland.