Kentwood freshman Brandon Tagle plays defense against Auburn. Photos by Ben Ray/The Reporter

Kentwood freshman Brandon Tagle plays defense against Auburn. Photos by Ben Ray/The Reporter

Basketball: Kentwood drops close game to defending state champs

On Jan. 13, the Kentwood Conquerors fell to the Auburn Trojans, 65-61, ending the Conks’ three-game win streak. The loss dropped them into a tie for fourth in the NPSL in a highly competitive 4A division.

But Kentwood Head Coach Blake Solomon found the positives in the game.

“I loved how we played tonight … For as young as we are, as tough as our schedule has been and as good as they are, I am very pleased with our effort,” said Solomon.

Kentwood got off to a slower start than normal, scoring five points in the first six minutes. At the end of the first quarter through good play from sophomore Mason St. Louis, they got the game to within two points to start the second quarter behind 13-11.

The game began and continued to be an extremely physical game, a battle that would test the Conks’ strength.

“Experience is the best teacher and that is something we lack. That is the one thing we lack is experience,” Solomon said.

The second quarter would stay tightly contested. Kentwood limited the Auburn sharpshooters to just a single three-pointer in the first half. The Conquerors ended the first half up by one, 26-25. St. Louis finished the half with 12 points and three rebounds, leading Kentwood in both categories.

Entering the fourth quarter, the game was tied. The message from coach Solomon to his players was simple: finish the game. With five minutes remaining, Kentwood trailed by four, 55-51, a lead that Auburn wouldn’t relinquish for the remainder of the game.

The closest Kentwood got to the Trojans was on a beautiful three-point attempt from Blake Stempniak put the game at the closest margin in the fourth, 63-61. It was the final points the Conquerors scored in the contest. Mason St. Louis led the Conks with 25 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Sophomore Corey Tita was the only other Kentwood player in double figures with 10 points.

One of the more interesting points about this Kentwood team is the youth, but last Friday, the seniors stepped up when the team needed them: “Both of them (Skyy Wen and Bilal Abdi) were terrific tonight and helped us a lot,” Solomon said.

The Conquerors currently sit tied at fourth seed in the NPSL. The tie with Auburn goes away at the end of the season because the Trojans are in the 3A division.

“This was our first of that (playoff atmosphere). Even through losing, we have a lot to build on,” Solomon added.

The top three teams in the league are all 4A schools (Kentridge, Tahoma, Federal Way) so if Kentwood wants to advance, they have to continue to play good basketball down the stretch. And they play all three of the teams coming up starting with Tahoma on Jan 20.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. 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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Brock England. COURTESY PHOTO, Canadian Sport School Hockey League
Kent-based Thunderbirds load up on Western Hockey League draft picks

Eleven players taken in Prospects Draft; two in U.S. Priority Draft, both from Dallas team

T20 World Cup trophy waits for fans to take photos. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Seattle Orcas, ‘America’s Favorite Cricket Team,’ builds local support

Event held at Bellevue Downtown Park can be catalyst for the world’s second most popular sport.

Ethan Loghry on the bump pitched a gem for the Falcons. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentlake baseball stays alive with a walk-off win

Falcons move on to winner-to-state game.

Keilor Cacho Garcia takes on a Stadium defender. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Royals soccer sent home in whirlwind of a second half

Kent-Meridian loses to Stadium 3-1, allowed three goals in six minutes in second half.

Quay Miller taking a shot during warmups in Canada. Photo provided by Seattle Storm.
Kentridge’s Quay Miller fights for spot with Storm

Miller wrapped up her college career in March and now sets her sights on the professional level.