BULLDOGS BASKETBALL TAKES PIERCE COLLEGE TOURNEY CHAMPIONSHIP
The Bellevue men's basketball team, currently ranked sixth in the NWAACC Coaches Poll, opened their season with a championship in the annual Pierce College Thanksgiving Tournament. The Bulldogs won three big games against opponents from the South, West, and North regions. On Friday, Nov. 25, the Bulldogs opened the tourney with Linn-Benton from the South region. Linn-Benton is a familiar foe for Bellevue as they have met in two of the last three NWAACC Tournaments. This game with Linn-Benton played out much like those NWAACC Tourney games as Bellevue opened up a lead early and ended the first half up 38-26. The Bulldog defense was the story of this game, forcing 22 turnovers and allowing only 41% shooting on the game. Bellevue was led by sophomores Eric Turner with 22 points and Rex Nelson who finished with 17. Laszlo Miller, also a Bulldogs second-year athlete, added 10 points to go with five rebounds.
On Saturday, in the semifinal, Bellevue took on South Puget Sound CC out of the West region. The Clippers were coming off a 20-point victory in their first round game with Columbia Basin College. Bellevue jumped out to an early lead in this game as well thanks to hot shooting from Jon Humphrie, and a break-out performance from freshman Keaton Hayenga. The Bulldogs led at the half 56-35 and scored triple digits in their 103-83 victory over SPSCC. Hayenga finished with 30 points and nine rebounds while Humphrie poured in 29 points to go with five assists. Nelson had another nice night with nine points and seven rebounds, and Miller scored double digits with 11 points.
In the Championship game on Sunday, Nov. 27, the Bulldogs faced the Orcas of Whatcom Community College. Whatcom had beat Shoreline Community College 118-109 in their semifinal matchup. Whatcom continued its high-scoring pace as they opened up an early 9-0 lead on Bellevue thanks to three deep three-point shots. The Orcas led at the half 40-35 and had leads as large as 10 points in the second half, but the Bulldogs never gave up. Down by eight points with three minutes to go, Bellevue staged a final rally to overtake Whatcom and win the Championship by a final score of 83-78. Bellevue was led by tournament MVP Humphrie as he scored 20 points and seven rebounds, with many of his boards coming in the critical final moments of the game. Hayenga was named to the All-Tournament team as he scored 13 points with eight rebounds in the championship. Nelson scored an important 14 points, including two difficult late-game drives to the basket to spur the Bulldog run. Turner added 11 points, and freshman Andrew Squiers continued his all-around play scoring nine points and defending Whatcom's best scoring threat throughout the game.
Bellevue goes on the road Thursday, Dec. 1, heading south to Olympia for a rematch with the Clippers from South Puget Sound. That game has a 6 p.m. tip-off.
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