Posted On: 11/30/18 10:00 AM
The Bellevue Wolverines have dominated 3A KingCo for the past decade. But last season was the first time they didn’t qualify for the state tournament since 2013.
Following a down season, long time coach Chris O’Connor has stepped down. O’Connor gave Bellevue its best seasons in school history. Leading the Wolverines to the state tournament 10 out of his 12 seasons, including eight year straight appearances. Prior to O’Connor’s arrival, they only had four state appearances.
Sam Fein is an accomplished, young and passionate coach. Prior to taking the Bellevue job, Fein was Head Coach at the Northwest School in Seattle. Sam Fein turned the small liberal arts school into a 1A contender. Last season, Northwest took eventual state champions Lynden Christian to the wire before losing in double overtime.
Fein won Coach of the Year, led The House to it’s best postseason finish and its highest win total in school history. The combination of experience, youth, passion and basketball knowledge makes Sam possibly the hottest coach in the state of Washington.
While adopting a winning program, Sam will have his work cut out for him. Bellevue is losing the league MVP, Andrew Kenny and Defensive Player of the Year, Spencer Birkeland from a year ago.
The Fein era didn’t start as planned, as the Wolverines fell to the Skyline Spartans in a nail bitter Wednesday. The shorthanded Wolverines were missing 3 of their returning players and potential starters due to football eligibility rules.
With key players like Hunter Hanson, Aaron Von Bruck and all league point guard Jalen Love sidelined, Bellevue’s inexperience was on display. After the lose Fein was optimistic with what he saw from his young players. “Good opportunity for our young guys to step up and get experience in a close varsity game” said Sam Fein.
The wolverines looked like the better team for the first 30 minutes of the game. Leading the way was junior guard Declan Rooney and sophomore forward Hudson Hanson. Rooney made big shots and controlled the pace of the game while Hanson had multiple blocks that kept the momentum in Bellevue’s favor. But a late game surge by Skyline, lead by junior guard Yogesh Banala put Bellevue against the ropes.
In the end, it was apparent that Bellevue lacked the leadership and late game composure to finish the game. “You could see where those guys (football ineligible players) could have helped us” said Steven Shpreyregin, assistant coach and former Washington State University guard.
Even with the lose, Bellevue fans should be looking at the glass as half full. With three potential all league players making their season debut Tuesday at Juanita, this should be more telling of how the Wolverines will fair this season.
Sam Fein is known for his defensive prowess and offensive schemes. And with a talented roster, Bellevue is in prime position to capture yet another KingCo championship.