Lake Washington junior guard Jen Estes (pictured) drives to the hoop for a basket against the Bellevue Wolverines in the 3A KingCo tournament championship game on Feb. 6 at Newport High School in Factoria. The Kangaroos defeated the Wolverines 53-43. Photo courtesy of Patrick Krohn/Patrick Krohn Photography

Lake Washington junior guard Jen Estes (pictured) drives to the hoop for a basket against the Bellevue Wolverines in the 3A KingCo tournament championship game on Feb. 6 at Newport High School in Factoria. The Kangaroos defeated the Wolverines 53-43. Photo courtesy of Patrick Krohn/Patrick Krohn Photography

Kangaroos conquer Wolverines in 3A KingCo title game

Stingy defense propels Lake Washington to a win against Bellevue.

What a difference a year has made for the Lake Washington Kangaroos girls basketball program.

Flashback to one year ago: The Kangaroos finished the 2017-18 season with an overall record of 2-18. Just one year later, the Kangaroos earned the 3A KingCo tournament title courtesy of a 53-43 win against the Bellevue Wolverines on Feb. 6 at Newport High School in Factoria. Lake Washington improved its overall record to 14-7 with the victory while Bellevue dropped to 10-11 overall. The Wolverines had a four-point lead (13-9) at the end of the first quarter but the Kangaroos weren’t rattled. Lake Washington outscored Bellevue 44-30 in the final three quarters of play to seal the win.

“It is really amazing. Last year we were in last place. We were 2-18 and now we’re the KingCo champs,” Lake Washington head coach Jeff Wilson said. “We were really just locked in defensively. We really tried to focus on Kara Choi (Bellevue’s leading scorer) since she is so good. We tried to keep the ball out of her hands. It was really a total team defensive effort.”

Despite the defensive pressure, Choi scored a game-high 21 points for the Wolverines in the loss. Lake Washington freshman Rosa Smith scored 17 points in the win. Bellevue Wolverines head coach Nick Crossan believes his team will rebound in its next playoff contest.

“Our effort was there. We just got to continue to get better. It has been an up and down season all year. It can’t be an excuse. We’ve got to find ways to get it done,” Crossan said.

Wilson couldn’t had been prouder of his team’s transformation from the bottom of the standings to the pinnacle of the KingCo Conference on the hardwood.

“I’m really happy for the girls. It is a really great group of 10 players that have bought into what we are trying to do. The players that came back to us (from last season) have really bought in and we have five new players this year that have really helped us out,” Wilson said.

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