In light of the Feb. 6 games being cancelled, Bellevue College’s men’s basketball team will have to remain in the middle of the pack for a little while longer. Sitting at 3-4 in conference games, the Bulldogs are sitting in fifth place, just outside of a playoff spot. However, they are just half a game back from Whatcom and a full game back from Peninsula, both of whom Bellevue has a tiebreaker over due to their great overall record.
The last couple of games have been great for Bellevue in terms of scoring, starting with their 84-67 bout against Olympic on Jan. 26. Olympic came into the game with zero conference wins, leaving them in dead last in the North Region. In fact, Olympic’s loss against Bellevue backed their last placement in the standings. There was a brief 14-second period where Olympic was up 2-0 at the start of the game, but the moment Curtis Walker made a three-point shot with 18:40 left in the first half, Bellevue would never be in a position to lose.
Stat lines would lead you to believe this was a closer game than it was, but the real difference was the 22 turnovers by the Olympic squad. Walker had a top-tier performance, with 24 points on 10-18 shooting, along with six rebounds, four assists and four steals. His four steals led the team, and his six rebounds tied him for that position with Malik Sanchez, whose six rebounds accompanied his 16 points and two blocks. TJ Jlan only scored six points this game but did end up leading Bellevue with nine assists.
Kai Warren and Emanuel Siale both had eventful games off the bench, scoring 14 and 10 points respectively on a total of 10-21 shooting.
Bellevue followed the game against Olympic by battling it out with first place Everett, who had not lost a game in conference play before their Jan. 30 matchup. Bellevue got off to a hot start, leading 14-4 early on before Everett hit their stride. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs never missed a beat and would go on to lead 40-39 at the end of the first half. The second half was more of the hot back-and-forth as no team could hold a lead bigger than five points leading into the final minutes. However, with a minute left on the clock, Bellevue found themselves in a 80-72 deficit, but they weren’t quite finished.
With 58 seconds remaining, Walker sparked the comeback with a made free throw. Warren blocked a shot on the other end of the court and ran it back where Walker drained a three-point shot, and suddenly it was a game again. The next drive was cut short by a Trenton Newhouse steal, which converted into two successful free throw attempts by Sanchez. With just a score between the two, Sanchez intentionally fouled Tori Odom, who made just one of his free throw attempts, giving Bellevue another chance. Warren got a chance at the free throw line, making one. The next drive was cut short by another Warren steal, which would tie the game at the end of regulation because of a clutch jump shot by Sanchez.
This was just a taste of the intensity, as the first overtime period also ended in a tie at 92 points a-piece. The Bulldogs fought hard but at the end, Everett prevailed by just two points after two overtimes, with the final score being 110-108. Five Bulldogs finished with double-digit points, with Walker putting up 33 along with 18 rebounds. A close loss is arguably just as difficult as a blowout loss, but it showed that Bellevue can fight with the best of the best, as Everett has been rated fourth in the conference as of Feb. 6. With performances like the ones they’ve had, Bellevue should be able to secure a good playoff seed going forward.