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Originally published Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 6:14 PM

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Bellevue falls to Wilson, settles for fifth | 3A Girls

Wilson beat a young Wolverines team 51-30, but they are already looking ahead to next season after their best state finish since 2002.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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TACOMA — It was a forgettable finish to a memorable season.

But it should be the start of a special run for the young Bellevue girls basketball team.

The Wolverines had to settle for fifth place in the Class 3A state tournament after Saturday's 51-30 loss to Wilson of Tacoma at the Tacoma Dome. They made just one of 16 field goals in the decisive second quarter, when the Rams opened a 27-14 lead en route to their third-place finish — the first state trophy in school history. Bellevue shot a meager 20.3 percent.

With no seniors and just three juniors, the future is bright and the lessons learned should be valuable, Bellevue players and coaches agree.

"I think it's crazy," freshman Shelby Cansler said of their fifth-place effort. "I'm really happy with how we did. Even though we didn't do as well as we wanted to, we came a lot farther than anyone thought we would."

The Wolverines (25-4) finished just 14-11 last season and made their first trip to state since 2008. It's the school's best finish since taking fourth in 2002.

They expect to be back.

"I think this will be the confidence that we needed, and also the experience," said Cansler, the KingCo 3A/2A MVP who had a team-high 11 points against Wilson. "We didn't have the experience coming into it, but now we know what to expect."

Coach Leah Krautter said the team had a difficult time bouncing back from Friday's semifinal loss to Cleveland. But she realized it was probably even tougher for Wilson (23-3), which fell to Seattle Prep when Bethany Montgomery's last-second basket was ruled a two-pointer rather than a three, which would have sent the game into overtime.

Montgomery was assessed a technical foul after removing her jersey and throwing it on the floor. She later apologized and coach Michelle Birge disciplined her by sitting her for nearly the entire first half on Saturday.

Tia Briggs stepped up with 16 points and 12 rebounds for Wilson and sophomore Violet Morrow had 11 points and 12 boards.

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