Bulldogs Take 8th at NWAACC Tournament
The Bellevue College men’s basketball team completed their season in the NWAACC Basketball Championship Tournament which took place March 3-6 in the Tri-Cities. After finishing North region play with an 11-5 record, the Bulldogs took the North region's third seed into the tournament. In the opening round the Bulldogs matched up with the second seed from the South region, the Chemeketa Storm. Chemeketa took an early lead on the Bulldogs starting the game with a quick 8-0 advantage. After a time-out Bellevue settled down and made a run of their own to tie the game at 10 points each side. From that point on, the first half was a back and forth affair with Chemeketa taking a slim one-point lead into halftime at 37-36. The second half followed the pattern of the first as Chemeketa would take small leads only to have Bellevue fight their way back. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs could never turn their momentum into a lead of their own and in the final minutes Chemeketa made one final run that Bellevue never answered. Chemeketa won the game 84-74 sending Bellevue to the consolation bracket. Bellevue was led in scoring by sophomore Jon Humphrie who put up a career high 35 points with eight three-pointers. Keaton Hayenga scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Rex Nelson added 13 points to go along with six rebounds.
On Sunday, March 4, Bellevue’s first game in the consolation bracket was a surprising matchup with the number one seed from the West, Clark College. Clark had gone into the NWAACC tournament as a favorite for the championship, but lost a tough overtime game to Yakima Valley College in the opening round. In this second game, Bellevue was the early aggressor and took a 40-28 lead into the half. However, Clark would not go away and pushed the Bulldogs to a tie at 71-71 with less than two minutes to play. A quick Bulldog basket and a Humphrie free throw gave the Bulldogs a three-point lead and the eventual 74-71 victory. Bellevue was once again led in scoring by Humphrie who put up 21 points, freshmen Tre Benton scored 15 points and four steals, and Nelson finished with 12 points.
Bellevue faced one more elimination game on Monday against a familiar foe from the South region, the Clackamas Cougars. Bellevue and Clackamas faced off twice earlier in the season with Bellevue winning both games by a narrow margin. This time around it would be different as the Bulldogs took charge from the jump and used their defensive efficiency and high energy to take an early double-digit lead. Bellevue extended its lead to 13 at the end of the first half on a last second three-pointer from freshman Alec Wilson. Bellevue made sure to never allow a comeback, winning the game 75-56. Bellevue's team defense held Clackamas to just 33% shooting on the game and Andrew Squiers held the Cougar leading scorer to just one for 9 shooting on the day. Bellevue was led in scoring by Hayenga with 19 and Humphrie’s 14. Nelson turned in a double-double performance scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Sophomore point guard Eric Turner gave one of his best performances of the season running the team and scoring 10 points to go with four assists and no turnovers.
With the win over Clackamas, the Bulldogs were able to advance to Tuesday’s games and were guaranteed their 7th straight placing at the NWAACC tournament. On the final day against North region rival Shoreline Community College, Bellevue found themselves in yet another back and forth game. However, it was clear that the Bulldogs did not have the legs to pull out a victory against the fast-paced Dolphins. Bellevue shot just 58% from the free throw line and turned the ball over 29 times. The Bulldogs made a strong push in the final minutes of the game, but couldn't hit one last shot to finish their comeback. Shoreline pulled out a 92-88 victory. Bellevue was led once again by Humphrie's 23 points and eight rebounds. Hayenga and Nelson combined for 28 points and 13 rebounds. Turner scored nine points, grabbed seven rebounds, and handed out five assists.
The loss meant that Bellevue had to settle for 8th place at the NWAACC tournament, but the placing meant that Bellevue continues its NWAACC record streak of placing seven straight times at the tournament. Humphrie was named to the second team all-NWAACC tournament. Despite the disappointment at the tournament, Bellevue had an outstanding season. The Bulldogs finished the year with a 23-7 record after starting the season 14-0. Bellevue also reached number 18 in the nation in the junior college (www.jucorecruiting.com ) national poll.
Humphrie and Nelson finished their Bellevue basketball careers together in the Sophomore All-Star game on Sunday, March 11 at Pierce College. Representing the North region, Humphrie and Nelson came away with a 118-116 victory over the South All-Stars. Humphrie scored 14 points and Nelson added seven points to go with eight rebounds. Thanks Bulldogs for a really great season!
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