On Thursday, Dec. 8, one of Sammamish’s high school boys basketball teams faced off against an old rival… and lost. Despite aggressive play that kept the score close in the first three periods, the Garfield Bulldogs managed to outshoot the Eastside Catholic Crusaders in the fourth quarter to clench a 63-55 victory in this always-heated rivalry.
The first period began with both teams energized and anxious to score, setting up mostly 3-pointers before settling into their grooves. A Bulldog breakthrough put Garfield on the board when sophomore shooting guard Legend Smiley took a rebound across the court for an unexpected mid-court 3-point shot. After several failed attempts, Crusader forward Jacob Cofie lit up and grabbed a rebound for a 2-point shot and another layup to give Eastside Catholic an early 7-5 lead.
A mid-court 3-point bucket and a flashy slam dunk from Smiley got the crowd riled up and cheering as the Bulldogs managed to quickly reverse the lead 18-9. The Crusaders needed to regroup before the divide widened.
After a brief timeout, the Crusaders adopted a more disciplined approach. Forward Nate Krohn managed to sink a 2-point field goal and another quick basket off the rebound. Cofie re-entered, adding free throw points to the board while guard Kayden Lamebull-Ingram weaved through Bulldog defenders for a blindingly fast layup. The period ended with the Crusaders still behind 21-23, but they were closing the gap.
The Crusaders knew they would have to keep up shot-for-shot. They opened the second period energized with Cofie scoring and Lamebull-Ingram landing a series of 2- and 3-point buckets. But the Bulldogs consistently responded. Point guard Nasyr Cornett stuck a 3-pointer for Garfield, tightening the score and ratcheting the tension. As the first half ended, the Crusaders held a narrow 31-30 lead.
The third period, as expected, was a back-and-forth, bucket-for-bucket battle. As frustrations mounted, so did the fouls and interruptions, disrupting the Crusaders’ focus. The Bulldogs capitalized and took the lead, 50-49.
In the final period, the Crusaders failed to regroup and lost momentum. They resorted to scattered 3-point shots that failed to land and several fouls that allowed the Bulldogs to gain five points from free throws alone. A 3-point shot cemented the Bulldog victory and a 63-55 loss for the Crusaders.
Eastside Catholic will play Bishop Blanchet Tuesday, Dec. 13, at Blanchet at 7:30 p.m.