As the Bellevue Bulldog men’s basketball team suited up for a Wednesday evening matchup against the Shoreline Dolphins, they had a postseason berth on their minds.
A win on their home court against the 10-6 Dolphins would mean clinching a playoff berth for the eighth consecutive year.
The Bulldogs left little room for question in a convincing 116-85 victory over a Shoreline team that had playoff aspirations of their own.
Bellevue look to be a dangerous team in the NWAACC tournament beginning on Mar. 3.
As of now the Bulldogs will enter the tournament as a three seed, but a win over Peninsula in the regular season finale would bump them up to a two seed, allowing them to place second in the North Division behind Whatcom.
Jeremy Eggers, who is in his ninth season as head coach, feels that his team, led by sophomore captains Jonathan Humphrie and Rex Nelson, can be a major threat in the tournament and win it all. “We’ve finished eighth, fourth, sixth, and second but never won the whole thing. It just hasn’t happened but I think we’ve got a great chance this year.”
The Bulldogs, who currently have a record of 21-4, have recorded eight 20 plus win seasons in a row. Furthermore, for the past six consecutive seasons, Bellevue has placed in the top eight in the NWAACC tournament of 16 teams, the first time that has been done in school history.
Coach Eggers feels that this year’s team ranks as one of the best he’s coached at Bellevue, but the competition has stiffened as well. “Depthwise this is one of the best teams we’ve had. All 11 guys can play, and they have great chemistry together. But the league as a whole has gotten better.”
The men’s basketball team has been crowned NWAACC champions twice in school history, the last in the 92’-93’ season when the team was called the Helmsmen. The name was changed to Bulldogs prior to the 04’-05’ season.
While nothing inherently has changed in the way Coach Eggers approaches his game plans or prepares for an opponent, he admits that he’s mellowed throughout the years. “I’ve definitely relaxed more. I used to be really intense but it doesn’t consume me like it used to. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still passionate about the game, I’ve just allowed players more freedom and realized it is just a game.”
Coach Eggers has been awarded coach of the year honors four times during his tenure at Bellevue, but he says winning an NWAACC championship would trump those awards. “I felt honored winning the Coach of the Year awards but those are individual achievements and were mainly a testament to the assistant coaches who do so much to help me. A championship would be the ultimate team goal and would be great for the program.” Unfortunately, the team’s success has not produced higher attendance at home games, something Coach Eggers would like to see change. “I would love to see more support at the games, but I understand lots of students commute and we don’t have that sense of closeness as a campus. I think if there were more team coverage and more announcements around school, attendance would pick up.”
The Bulldog men will be traveling to the Toyota Center in Kennewick for the Mar. 3-6 NWAACC playoffs. The tournament is double elimination, but only the team that goes undefeated will be awarded the championship.