Let the games begin.
Overlake athletic director John Wiley’s voice raises with excitement when he predicts that Friday’s varsity basketball matchups against Bear Creek will be good old-fashioned barnburners.
“We expect Bear Creek will bring it Friday night,” he said of the contests that will take place in Overlake’s gym. The girls game will tip off at 5:30 p.m. and the boys game will follow hot on its heels at 7 p.m.
The two Redmond schools — which compete in the 1A Emerald City League (ECL) — faced off for the first time this season on Jan. 17 at Bear Creek. Overlake won both games, with the boys prevailing, 51-37, and the girls winning, 45-30.
Overlake’s Tellier Lundquist led the Owls with 13 points and 12 rebounds, followed by teammates Trent Gardner with nine points and Bryce DeLay with eight points. For Bear Creek, Jace Blankenbeckler had 15 points and Trevor McRae added 13 points; captain Alex Gephart has also been a key leader for the squad.
On the girls’ side, Overlake’s Jane Cosmos tallied 15 points and Eliza Friend had 11. Alyson Wong notched 12 for Bear Creek.
Overlake’s boys are riding an 11-game winning streak and are 7-1 in league and 13-3 overall after upsetting previously undefeated Northwest, 51-43, on Tuesday. The Owl girls, who have won nine straight and are 9-2 in league and 12-3 overall, snapped Seattle Academy’s seven-year league winning streak (more than 100 games) with a recent 52-44 victory.
Bear Creek’s boys sport a 4-4 league and 7-9 overall record while the Grizzly girls are 5-6 in league and 6-8 overall.
Grizzly athletic director Chad Pohlman said the schools’ rivalry has turned into a fun evening.
“Recent years have included buzzer-beating, game-winning shots to go with cancer-awareness nights that both schools support and get behind,” he said. “We love the competition on the court that brings out the best in both teams as well as the reminder to both of our great communities that even in a heated rivalry game, there are real-life causes and organizations that we can rally behind and support together as one team.”
Organizations that the schools focus on are Coaches Against Cancer, Strong Against Cancer and EvergreenHealth’s CLiMB (Children’s Lives Include Moments of Bravery) program, which supports children ages 6 to 12 whose parents are diagnosed with cancer.
Wiley echoed Pohlman’s comments about the importance of cancer awareness and close bonds between the schools.
It’s a rivalry between the schools as far as the league standings go, but there’s more to it than team records.
“It’s kind of beyond that. We’re friends and we’re rivals. These are kids we know, kids we have a lot of respect for,” he said, noting that both schools are well-coached, and on the boys’ side, some players team up on the combined Overlake/Bear Creek Growls baseball team.
Bear Creek boys coach Tyler Mendezona said his squad enjoys playing against Overlake coach Justin Prohn’s high-level team. There’s tons of energy during the games and “I think the rivalry is great for the competitiveness and exposure of the ECL,” Mendezona said.
“With the level that the Overlake girls play at, it pushes us to give all that we can and leave everything on the floor. With a few of the players on each team knowing each other, it just adds to the fun competitive rivalry,” said Bear Creek girls coach Ali Mendezona, noting that her top players are Wong, Delaney Montgomery, Ashley Cowman and Kim Do.
UPDATE: In Friday’s games, Overlake’s boys won, 54-44, and Overlake’s girls triumphed, 50-30.