Evian Richard scored with 15 seconds left to cap a furious Bellevue rally and the Wolverines advanced to the semifinal round of the 3A state basketball tournament with a 49-48 win over Chief Sealth on Thursday night at the Tacoma Dome.
Bellevue trailed 49-48 when point guard Will Locke accidentally stepped on the baseline during a drive with under 20 seconds left. Bellevue opted not to foul and Locke recovered and knocked the ensuing inbounds towards Richard, who picked up the loose ball and calmly hit a five-foot jump shot to give the Wolverines the win.
"When I was shooting, I was [thinking] 'no pressure, no pressure, just shoot,'" Richard said of the game-winning bucket.
Chief Sealth had one more chance to win with 1.9 seconds left, but Richard tied up Keon Lewis momentarily and Lewis' desperation three at the buzzer fell well short.
"Evian's been the stud the last five weeks," O'Connor said. "No one really knows about him but he does all the little things for us."
For the first three quarters it did not look like Bellevue would be in any position to win. The Wolverines trailed the entire game up until the fourth quarter, falling behind by ten late in the third quarter 39-29. But the Wolverines put together a 14-3 run to take their first lead of the game at 43-42. Six lead changes followed before Richard's winning shot.
"When you get in these state tournaments," Bellevue head coach Chris O'Connor said of his teams' slugglish start. "The good thing is we finally pulled through and played the way we had been playing the previous weeks."
Nate Sikma was key for Bellevue during its fourth quarter comeback, scoring 10 of his game-high 15 points in the final 5:07 of the game after having little effect on the Bellevue offense for most of the game.
"We talked about at halftime as a staff 'we're glad the offense is in front of our bench because we can start calling things out a little bit easier,'" O'Connor said of the switch to go to Sikma in the second half. "When it was down at the other end, we weren't really running anything."
Chief Sealth took advantage of that lack of offensive flow in the first half and looked like it might run away with it early, opening up a 14-4 lead six minutes into the game. The Seahawks led 21-17 at halftime and pushed the lead 39-31 after three before Bellevue's comeback. Keon Lewis and Charlie Smith each scored 14 points to lead Chief Sealth.
The win puts Bellevue into the semifinal round of the tournament. The Wolverines will play on Friday at 9 pm against the winner of the North Central/Glacier Peak game.