Rainier Beach coach Mike Bethea claims eighth WIAA state title ring
Throughout the season, the Rainier Beach Vikings were hailed second-best to Garfield.
This isn’t common for Rainer Beach. The Vikings rarely have to prove to people who they are. Their name and history usually did the talking. This season, things weren’t the same. The Vikings started the season ranked No. 2 and having to fight to be the best. The fight wasn’t always beautiful and the Vikings were tested, but the ending sealed the deal. The Vikings won the 3A state championship Saturday, March 5 at the Tacoma Dome, beating O’Dea 70- 49 for their fourth title in five years.
The journey started off with the Vikings facing the Lincoln Abes. Like in the football playoffs earlier this year, it was Tacoma versus Seattle all over again. The Vikings started off slow and found themselves trailing early. They got it together and took the lead in the second quarter. They went on a Rainier Beach run and led by 12 points at the half. The second half wasn’t much different, the Vikings continued to take the lead and play Rainier Beach basketball. They went on to win 81-63.
The state bracket was quite different this year, with Metro teams on one side of the bracket and had to face each other to make it to the championship game. So the Vikings had to face Garfield sooner than expected. The game finally came and it was seen as the championship game by many.
The Vikings started off trailing in the first quarter, with Garfield ahead 20-9. Things weren’t looking so good for the Vikings and they continued to struggle. The halftime score was 40-29, pretty similar to the Lincoln game but this time, the Vikings were trailing. Everything changed in the third quarter: it was like the boys had Michael’s Secret Stuff from Space Jam. The Vikings dominated the third quarter, going on a 12-0 run and tied the game 40-40.
In the fourth quarter, the Vikings furthered pulled away and the Bulldogs seemed to have given up. The Vikings went on to win, 66-61. After making a huge comeback and winning the game, the Vikings were set to play against O’Dea for the championship.
The O’Dea game was quite interesting, since Rainier Beach lost to them in the playoffs 67-57. It wasn’t going to be an easy fight and the boys understood that. They ended the first quarter with a 26-9 lead. The Vikings continued to dominate and made sure to have a strong lead over the Fighting Irish. They went on to win 70-49 and bring the state championship trophy back to Rainier Beach High School. This was the eighth state championship game coach Mike Bethea led the Vikings to win and his eighth ring.