Kentridge squeaks by Auburn Riverside 68-67 | Prep boys basketball

Auburn Riverside
Auburn Riverside's Derek White drives against Kentridge's Kesean Kelly.
— image credit: Rachel Ciampi/Reporter

The No. 3-ranked Kentridge boys basketball team survived a second-half comeback from South Puget Sound League North 4A rival Auburn Riverside on Tuesday, preserving its undefeated season with a 68-67 road victory.

"It's always tough down here," Charger coach Dave Jamison said. "This is a hard place to play. They had a lot of guys playing well."

Kentridge (12-0 league, 16-0 overall) had its way with the Ravens (7-5, 10-6) in the first half, piling up a 41-23 lead at the intermission.

Auburn Riverside, however, came alive in the third quarter, riding the hot hand of senior guard Derek Brown, who finished the game with a game-high 25 points.

The Ravens closed to within five points in the waning moments of the frame as senior Derek White, Brown and junior Mitch Wetmore all converted on 3-point plays to put the score at 56-51 going into the last quarter.

With Charger senior and scoring leader Jawan Stepney forced to ride the pine with foul trouble in the fourth quarter, Auburn Riverside continued to claw its way back into the game, taking a 67-66 lead with less than a minute to go, courtesy of a Brown jumper for two.

The Ravens' upset dreams were smashed on the last possession of the game, however, as Kentridge senior Joe Wainhouse closed the door with a put-back as time expired, putting his team up 68-66 at the buzzer.

"They hit some shots and they got a lot of offensive boards," Jamison said. "They had some guys finishing underneath for them. They played their butts off. They made a good run at us. We missed some shots we usually make and we had some foul trouble, so I couldn't go to the man I usually go to (Stepney)."

Senior Keasean Kelly sank 18 points in the contest to lead the Chargers, with Stepney adding 15 in limited minutes. Senior Deon Thomas added 11 points.

Auburn Riverside was led by Brown's 25 points, Wetmore adding 14 and senior Drew Wallen contributing 10.

"This was a tough loss," Auburn Riverside coach Earl Taylor said. "A one-point loss is always tough. But we've got three more home games in our next four, and we're hoping to be competitive and win those games. We need to just work on that game pressure in the final moments of a game, just playing smart basketball and executing. We were down by 18 at the half, and I just asked them to keep attacking the basket and forcing it down the middle. And it worked, they got in foul trouble. Their number one player (Stepney) got in trouble and was out a significant amount of time, and that's when we started to come back. That was our plan, to attack once he was in trouble."

Taylor lauded his team's toughness in the game.

"We're not a tall team, so we tried to equalize that by taking charges," he said. "There were quite a few player control charges called against them, which was good. That equalizes things out and lets them know we have no fear and we're going to work together and play hard. If you try to drive on us, we're not afraid to get in there and take one for the team. I was pleased with our guys that got in there and took some charges."

The Ravens host Kentwood (7-4, 10-5) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Kentridge continues its quest for perfection at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Auburn (8-3, 10-5).

"Our on-ball defense needs to get better, and we need to finish inside better," Jamison said. "We had too many turnovers in the first half. I think we just got impatient at times. It's hard though, these are high school kids and they're feeling a little bit of pressure being 15-0 when teams make a run at us. I'm happy to get away with one here."

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