Garfield knocks off 3-time champ Rainier Beach, wins second straight title
No. 3 Garfield captured the Class 3A state title with a 66-51 win over three-time defending champions No. 1 Rainier Beach.
Seattle Times staff reporter
TACOMA — Garfield preaches unity. It thrives on doing everything as a team, from leaving the locker room after a game together to each person taking responsibility for the ups and downs of the season.
The team came together one more time this season on Saturday night, this time to win a state championship. The No. 3 Bulldogs pulled away late to capture the Class 3A state title with a 66-51 win over three-time defending champions No. 1 Rainier Beach.
“There’s no one person; we say this all the time: What we can’t do alone, we can do together,” Garfield coach Ed Haskins said. “It’s not about me, it’s not about one person or two people, it’s about Garfield basketball.”
It is the second straight title for Garfield (27-2), which beat Richland last year to capture the Class 4A championship, and the 13th in school history for one of the most storied programs in the state.
“Garfield basketball has a lot of pride and on the back of our jersey, just like we said last year, is legacy,” Haskins said. “It’s all about legacy. There were so many people from the Brandon Roys or the Tony Wrotens, and everybody else that we don’t know their names that were up in the stands. We felt the support.”
While it was a team effort to win the championship, a mismatch that forward Alphonso Anderson created inside was key. The 6-foot-6 forward had his way with smaller defenders guarding him, as his unique mix of size, strength and athleticism made him tough to stop on the block. Anderson finished with 17 points — 12 in the second half — and 14 rebounds. He was also able to draw secondary defenders and open things up for his teammates, which aided Jaylen Nowell, who finished with a game-high 23 points.
“Today, I was going to get it done no matter what happened,” Anderson said.
The teams traded blows throughout the second half, with the lead seesawing back and forth. Neither was able to pull ahead by more than five until midway through the fourth. Nowell started the final push by stealing the ball from Rainier Beach (25-4) guard Shadeed Shabazz and converting it into a three-point play to give the Bulldogs a 52-49 lead with 3:18 left. That bucket started a 17-2 game-ending run for Garfield.
“I faked at him, I guess he kind of got scared and dribbled off his foot,” Nowell said of the steal.
Rainier Beach star Dejounte Murray finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds, but struggled to get going in the second half, scoring just four points on six shots. The Vikings were attempting to become the first Class 3A team to win four straight state titles.
“We won for so long,” Rainier Beach coach Mike Bethea said. “I don’t know, I think guys just expected things to happen.”