From the opening tipoff it was obvious who was the more dominant team. On a cold, rainy Monday evening in front of a slightly less than crowded arena, the Bellevue Bulldog men showed their dominance over the Edmond Tritons.
Bellevue, in their home white jerseys, took an early ten-point lead in the first half and never trailed again. In a makeup game from the snowstorm, 6’5” sophomore Keaton Hayenga poured in 25 points in just 29 minutes to lead all scorers. Hayenga, who also leads the team in scoring (16.9) and rebounds (8.1), was coming off a huge game in which he scored 29 points and added nine rebounds against Peninsula College. Peninsula came into the game against Bellevue ranked number three in the NWAACC coach’s poll but the Bulldogs held firm on their home court and took the hard fought win 94-84.
After a sluggish start, the scrappy Edmonds team led by the relentless hustle of number 10 freshman guard Ray Brooks, was able to close the first half deficit to just nine, making the half time score 32-23.
The Tritons, in their green and blue road uniforms, came into Bellevue as heavy underdogs sporting a 1-6 record in conference play and a 1-14 record overall. Edmonds seemed to have difficulty penetrating the Bulldogs’ high 2-3-zone defense, resulting in 17 team turnovers and several forced shots that led to Bellevue fast breaks. It also didn’t help that Edmonds as a team shot 33 percent from the field.
Franky Johnson, a 6’2” freshman guard from California, led the Tritons with 18 points in 34 minutes. Johnson, who had a picture perfect jump shot, was the only real bright spot for an Edmonds team that had a cold shooting night.
Johnson was able to connect on 4-7 shooting from beyond the three-point arc while adding three steals.
With 10:33 left in the second half Bellevue continued to let Edmonds hang in the game. In fact, Edmonds had pulled to within seven at 44-37.
Despite it being only a seven-point game, the Bulldogs remained patient and used the shot clock and put up quality shots. At no point did it feel as though Bellevue was relinquishing its control of the game, although it wasn’t until the six-minute mark in the second half Bellevue closed the door for good.
With a score of 53-41 in the Bulldogs favor, Edmonds began a desperate full court press that did not provide the results they were hoping it would. Bellevue broke the press with ease and came up with several uncontested layups that extended the lead and sealed the victory.
The final score read 72-53 Bellevue, but it was a closer game than the final scoreboard indicated.
The Bulldogs, who are 16-2 overall and 6-2 in conference play, sit in second in the North Division, one game behind Whatcom.
Bellevue will continue its brutal schedule of six games in 11 days and look to finish the difficult stretch strong.
The Bulldogs will next travel to Skagit on Wed. Feb. 8 and return home to face Everett on Feb. 20.