No. 1 Garfield turns Metro League showdown with No. 3 Rainier Beach into blowout

PJ Fuller scores 33 points as the Bulldogs jump out to an early lead and cruise past the Vikings 100-72.

Garfield was beginning to get a reputation for slow starts.

Against crosstown rival Rainier Beach, the No. 1 Bulldogs started the anticipated boys basketball game on fire and didn’t let up until the final buzzer. Junior transfer PJ Fuller nailed four NBA-range three-pointers from the top of the key in the second quarter to propel a 100-72 win on Friday night.

Fuller scored 33 to lead four players in double figures for Garfield.

Garfield (13-0, 9-0 Metro) remains undefeated while handing No. 3 Rainier Beach (9-3, 7-1) its first league loss.

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Rainier Beach sold out its modest gym by 5:30 p.m. Former Garfield coach Ed Haskins, who’s now an assistant for the Washington State men’s team, former Beach star Nate Robinson and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer were some of the faces in the crowd. But the packed gymnasium was quelled by the third quarter as fans started leaving with the Vikings down 71-47.

Beach was cooled early by foul trouble. Senior Kevin Porter Jr., the team’s leading scorer, tried to penetrate to the hoop multiple times in the first half. He was consistently met by a Garfield double team.

Porter was tagged with four offensive fouls in the first half. Some questioned why Beach coach Mike Bethea kept his star in the game after the third foul, which was with 6:56 left in the second quarter. Porter was replaced by junior Nate Murray when he was called for the fourth with 2:17 on the clock and his team down 43-27.

Garfield was the Class 3A state tournament runner-up last season. It lost to Nathan Hale, whose starting point guard was Fuller. He transferred back to Garfield, where he played as a freshman, under…

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