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Lake Washington wins 5th consecutive 3A KingCo girls basketball title

Fifth-ranked Kangaroos clinch fifth consecutive 3A KingCo championship with 54-43 victory over Bellevue on Saturday

BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON - Ashley Uusitalo scored a career-high 26 points, and fifth-ranked Lake Washington pulled away over the final five minutes of the third quarter in turning away Bellevue, 54-43, on Saturday afternoon.

With the win, the Kangaroos clinched their fifth consecutive 3A KingCo crown - and extended their league winning streak to 47 games, longest in any 4A or 3A league in Washington.

If Lake Washington defeats Interlake in the regular-season finale, and wins both games in the league tournament, it would leave the 3A ranks on a 50-game KingCo winning streak.

Here are three takeaways from the Lake Washington-Bellevue game:



2024 MLK holiday basketball: Sumner vs. Lake Washington

Only three schools in Class 3A tournament history have been to three consecutive WIAA title games - Garfield (2021-23), Lake Washington (2021-23) and Cleveland (2013-15).

The Kangaroos are the only ones in the trio who have not won a state championship.

And yet, they don't dwell on losing to Garfield three times on Saturday night, or the difficulty of getting over such disappointment.

They know they are not owed anything - and work diligently to climb the mountain again.

"(Other teams) know we've got a bunch of kids that put in a ton of hard work in the offseason," Lake Washington girls coach Jeff Wilson said. "It's shown our program is committed to playing tough non-conference games - and building teams out."



Lake Washington girls basketball 2023-24

Given how hard opponents come at the Kangaroos, you wouldn't know they were consecutive state runners-up.

They come into most gymnasiums with a champions-like target on their back.

Case in point: Their game Saturday at Bellevue.

The Wolverines took a 25-22 lead on Amy Kidd's bank shot with 5:11 remaining in the third quarter.

Suddenly, the home crowd came to life - only to see the Kangaroos answer back.

They scored the next 14 points, triggered by back-to-back corner 3-pointers from Uusitalo and three more baskets by Reese Roberts, to grab a 42-30 lead at the end of the quarter.

"We didn’t panic when the game was close," Wilson said. "They played calm in the Sumner win, the Everett win. They are starting to get more comfortable in those pressure situations."



2023-24 Washington high school girls basketball: Lake Washington at Bellevue

Last season, Lake Washington earned its third consecutive state title-game berth behind a group of five starting seniors.

This winter, the Kangaroos only have one senior of their roster - Madison Macias - and their primary playmakers are junior Paige Citron, ninth grader Julia Benthin and Uusitalo, the team captain as a sophomore.

"Rarely have we chosen a sophomore as captain, but we did this year because its is very clear our girls look at Ashley," Wilson said.

It won't be much longer when Uusitalo is recognized as one of top players in the state - with ball-handling skills and vision of a point guard and the sweet shooting stroke of a perimeter off guard or wing.

"I feel like it’s a really big privilege to lead this team," Uusitalo said. "They are all my best friends, so it is sure fun."