Kentridge freshman Jayla Brown takes the ball down the floor on a fast break. Photos by Ben Ray/Sound Publishing

Kentridge freshman Jayla Brown takes the ball down the floor on a fast break. Photos by Ben Ray/Sound Publishing

Basketball: Kentridge girls fall to Decatur in middle of playoff race

Kentridge High School lost just its second North Puget Sound League (NPSL) girls basketball game of the season to the Decatur Gators, 50-39, on Jan. 27.

Kentridge (13-5, 9-2 league) still sits in the middle of the playoff race but dropped to fourth in the NPSL standings.

The Chargers went into the game against Decatur allowing their opponents to score just under 40 points a game at 39.

“Defensively it was great, we were going 100% and giving it everything we had. Offensively we were just a little stuck,” said Kentridge coach Brad McDowell.

In the first quarter the Chargers struggled early, but their defense kept them in the game. By the end of the first quarter the Gators led 9-5.

The second quarter, the Chargers got in a groove. The key was the play from junior Sydney Esperanza.

“I think Sydney could be one of those MVP caliber type players,” McDowell said. “She doesn’t take any possessions off, she goes hard 100% of the time and as a coach I can’t ask for much more.”

Esperanza totalled 13 points and six rebounds in the first half alone. She also made a trio of three pointers jolting the Chargers to a 23-18 halftime lead.

In the second half, Decatur limited the Esperanza which hurt the Chargers and allowed Decatur to get back in the game. Kentridge still led after the third quarter, 30-27.

But the momentum had swung the way of the Gators. A team who coach McDowell gave full credit to.

“Their claim to fame is their defense,” McDowell said. “When you try to score and shots aren’t falling. …It makes it tough.”

In the fourth quarter, Decatur took the lead with 5:55 left and would never relinquished it. Turnovers, missed shots and foul trouble hamstrung the Chargers ability to create a comeback.

Kentridge is by far one of, if not the youngest team in the NPSL. There were three underclassmen in the starting lineup (one sophomore, two juniors), and there is just a single senior on the roster.

“The big picture look is, it might not be perfect now. But as we continue to progress as a group it’s going to get better and better,” McDowell said.

Esperanza led the Chargers with 22 points, eight rebounds, an assist and two steals, accounting for 56% of the Chargers points.

“She gives everything she has every single time she’s out there, I love her to death for that… I really appreciate all she’s done,” McDowell said.

Kentridge fell to Tahoma and Decatur but the Chargers are right in the mix of the playoff race.

“They’re ready, they’re excited. They want to be in the playoffs and prove that they are one of those top teams,” McDowell said.

Kentridge takes on Kennedy Catholic Feb. 2, before ending the regular season Feb. 4 at Kentwood.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Sports

Funny Cars showing off big flames on July 19 at Pacific Raceways. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Northwest Nationals breakdown: Winners crowned and history made

At Pacific Raceways, two drivers get first career wins, a year-long drought ends and more.

Ron Capps’ funny car was on display outside the Muckleshoot Casino and Hotel. Ben Ray / Sound Publishing
For the first time in NHRA history, Pacific Raceways hosts night race

Three-time event winner Ron Capps talks to fans and media before Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways.

Too hot to play sports? High temps challenge Kent Parks Department

Four days of events canceled July 6-9 at Wilson Playfields where surface temps soared to 120 degrees

Photos by Ben Ray / The Reporter
Jaylen Petty drives against Lincoln inside the Tacoma Dome.
Two-time NPSL MVP to leave Auburn High School for Rainier Beach

Jaylen Petty will play his last high school season as a Viking in Seattle.

Photo provided by Rodney McCurry.
Seattle Majestics play in postseason

Seattles women’s tackle football team goes to Las Vegas to open up the playoffs.

Skylar Diggins-Smith conducts the offense against the Sparks. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Storm pour it on in the fourth, wash out Sparks

Seattle used a huge 10-0 run late in the fourth to take control over Los Angeles.

Federal Way Memorial Field. Photo provided by Bruce Honda
Federal Way Memorial Field to host high school boys soccer tournaments

Class 2A, 1A competitions to move to Federal Way from Renton for 2025 to 2028

2024 Kent Reporter Athletes of the Year are Ella Wick and Ethan Loghry. Pictured left to right: Kent Reporter sports writer Ben Ray, Ella Wick, Ethan Loghry, and Brian Smith, Kent School District Director of Athletics and Activities. Photo provided by ROBBY MULLIKIN
Kent School District and Kent Reporter’s 2024 Athletes of the Year

Kentlake’s Ethan Loghry and Ella Wick take home top awards.

Kentwood and Kentridge players go at it for possession. Ben Ray / The Reporter
NPSL All-League Soccer Teams: Kentwood’s Logan Hasting is POTY

Other Kent School District athletes make the list.

Hazen’s Illia Biezak leaps over the bar. Ben Ray / The Reporter
State track and field: Liberty boys, Kent-Meridian girls place inside top four in 3A

Cassie Atkins (FW) continued to dominate, has now won five titles in three years.

Auburn Riverside softball wins state championship

Ravens win first fastpitch title in school history.

Steve Raible auctioning off a Seahawks football from 1983.
Seahawks legends inspire South King County youth at breakfast

Scholar-Athlete Breakfast in Auburn features Steve Largent and Steve Raible.