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Kentridge savors season to remember
Back-to-back losses at the Hardwood Classic stung Kentridge, putting an abrupt end to its championship aspirations.
Garfield crushed Kentridge 63-41 in the opening round of the Class 4A state basketball tournament on March 6 at the Tacoma Dome. Jackson of Mill Creek followed by downing the Chargers 60-57 in overtime to clinch fourth place last Friday.
Garfield's initial seven-point run knocked Kentridge off its game, and the Chargers never quite recovered. Garfield led 34-12 at halftime.
Put on the defensive, the Chargers were forced into taking more risks.
"Things that we normally do didn't work for us," said Kentridge coach Dave Jamison, who made his fifth visit to the Tacoma Dome in eight years. "The speed of the game made us rush our decision making. It was an 11-10 game and then it was a 17-10 game."
Jawan Stepney led Kentridge (25-3) with 13 points. Hussayn Ford added eight points and Nick Hopson scored five. Tramaine Isabell had 21 points for Garfield.
The Chargers fared better against Jackson, coming out swinging in the first half but finding their 20-point lead slowly eroding in the second half. A final 3-pointer in the last 15 seconds of overtime couldn't bring the Chargers back from a four-point deficit.
Stepney led Kentridge with 32 points and Keasean Kelley scored 15 points.
Despite the losses, Jamison said that the journey was worth it. It was one of his most successful, special teams he has had in 25 years of coaching.
He hopes that his four varsity veterans — juniors Hopson and Deon Thomas, and sophomores Elija and Jordan Ticeson — will return next year.
For Kristoff Adams, the high point of the season was the regional championship against Arlington, when the Chargers secured their state berth.
"Going into the fourth quarter, that's when it really hit me that it could be our last game," Adams said.
Neither Adams nor senior Stepney has committed to play in college, but they say that Kelley plans on playing in college.
The end of the season is bittersweet. Stepney and Adams agree that it's been sadder to see such a successful team break up. They expect Thomas to take the leadership mantle, but know that to have a similarly successful team next year "everyone else is gonna have to step up, too."
The Chargers made program history with their season record, and Adams says that will always keep them together.
"We'll definitely always be a team," he said. "This is definitely the closest I've ever been with guys that I've played with."