Garfield girls win Metro League title, start road they hope ends in four-peat

Following a pair of double-digit victories during the regular season, the top two teams all season long in the Metro League girls basketball race kept things much closer to nail-biting time in the rubber match — at least for a half.

Ultimately, the three-time defending Class 3A state champs prevailed as Garfield captured the first of what the Bulldogs hope will be three more titles this postseason with a 66-53 win in the Metro League championship game on Friday night at Seattle Pacific University.

Garfield (15-2) enters the SeaKing district tournament as the top seed from the league. The Bulldogs will play their first district game on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Bellevue College against the winner of the first-round game between Holy Names and Juanita.

“It’s a great appetizer,” Garfield coach Roy Smiley said. “It keeps the morale up. And knowing that they can accomplish something unspeakable, go out and get that fourth (state) one.”

Despite the loss, Lakeside (19-3) earned the second seed from the Metro and also got a first-round bye to districts. The Lions will get the winner between Liberty and Roosevelt at 3:30 p.m. at Sammamish High on Tuesday.

On Dec. 13, Lakeside handed the Bulldogs their only loss to a Class 3A school this season, 48-36. Garfield returned the favor at home on Jan. 20, routing the Lions 60-38.

Lakeside began Friday’s title game positively. The Lions scored the final five points of the first quarter to take a 13-10 lead and extended that advantage to 15-10 on Mia Broom’s basket to open the second quarter.

After holding Oregon-bound star Katie Fiso scoreless over the first eight minutes, the senior got her offense going and helped to bring the Bulldogs back. Fiso made three three-pointers in the quarter and scored 11 of her game-high 25 points as Garfield turned the five-point deficit into a 28-24 halftime lead.

Garfield’s athleticism and quick hands defensively made it tough on Lakeside.

“It’s something we work on every day,” Fiso said. “Defense fuels our offense.”

Two more Fiso three-pointers fueled a 10-0 run over the first 96 seconds of the third quarter as Garfield extended to a double-digit lead that grew to as much as 20 points early in the fourth quarter. Bloom and the Lions did rally down the stretch, making four late three-pointers to close to within nine, 62-53 with 1:17 left.

“We got some confidence from when we played them at home,” Smiley said. “There two top players are really, really good. They’re so well coached, we knew it was going to be a game.”

Bloom led Lakeside with 22 points.

“Mia’s such a good player,” Fiso said. “I love playing against her. There’s definitely some rivalry there.”

Lakeside went cold from the field after the break. The Lions’ first seven points of the third quarter all came from the free-throw line and their only made field goal of the third quarter came on a three-pointer by Lili Brown with 15 seconds left.

Three free throws, two from Devyn Hall and another by Amira Devers extended the Bulldog advantage to its biggest of the game, 54-34 with 7:46 to play before the Lions got hot from behind the arc. Bloom made two from distance in the final 6:32 and Sophia David added two more, her last with 1:17 left briefly getting the lead under 10 for the first time since the start of the second half, 62-53.

Fiso’s final basket of the game a few seconds pushed it back to double digits.

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