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Donniesha Webber leads Cleveland past Bellevue and into title game | 3A Girls
Webber, the Eagles' lone senior, had nine points and 12 rebounds as Cleveland set up an all-Metro League final with Seattle Prep.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TACOMA — Donniesha Webber wants to seize the moment.
People talk about how young this Cleveland girls basketball team is and its promising future. But there is no next year for Webber, the lone senior on the team.
And she's playing like it.
Webber was one point shy of a double-double Friday as the second-ranked Eagles came from behind to beat No. 5 Bellevue, 52-43, and advance to the Class 3A state championship game. They play No. 4 Seattle Prep (23-5) in an all-Metro League final Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Tacoma Dome.
It's right where Webber expected them to be.
"I feel like we're meant to be here," she said after delivering nine points and a game-high 12 rebounds against the Wolverines. "It's not a coincidence. I feel like we're supposed to be here."
Players and coaches say they wouldn't be there without Webber.
"Her presence in the game is big," said junior guard Makala Roper, who finished with a team-high 14 points despite an off shooting night. "She's the leader on the team. She'll be picking us up when we're down. She's always getting the big boards down low. She's a fighter."
And Cleveland got quite a fight from Bellevue, which led by six in the third quarter and trailed 42-41 with six minutes to play.
"We told the girls at halftime that we were right where we wanted to be," Bellevue coach Leah Krautter said. "We told them they were going to come out like tornadoes in the second half. We expected it."
And they got it as the Eagles (26-2) rallied for their 25th straight victory. Junior Alexia Mefi, in foul trouble most of the game, scored six of her seven points early in the fourth period as they went up 42-39. Bellevue (25-3) went scoreless for more than five minutes as Cleveland pulled away.
Sophomore Joyce Harrell was another key with eight points and 11 rebounds.
Bellevue, which plays No. 3 Wilson of Tacoma on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. to decide third and fifth places, got a game-high 16 points from freshman Shelby Cansler. She also had eight rebounds, three blocks, three steals and two assists. Junior Kate Holmes chipped in 10 points and eight boards.
This will be the second all-Metro final in four years. The Eagles upset Holy Names in the 2010 title game. They'll have to beat Seattle Prep for the fourth time this season to finish on top again. The previous three meetings have each been decided by five points or less.
Prep knocked off No. 3 Wilson in Friday's other semifinal, 36-33.
"We ain't scared, and we ain't running," coach Stephenie Wheeler-Smith said. "I'm really proud of the way they (the Panthers) played. I'm not surprised that they're here, not at all, not even one bit. And we get to dance again."