Kent teams to take center stage at ShoWare

Kentwood’s Joshua Smith throws down a dunk against Federal Way earlier in the season. Smith

Kentwood’s Joshua Smith throws down a dunk against Federal Way earlier in the season. Smith

Beware, ShoWare.

High school basketball is coming Jan. 30 to Kent’s new arena.

Fans will get chance to follow the bouncing ball for the first time at the city-owned events center when 10 high school teams compete in the Les Schwab Kent Shootout.

The marquee game features the Kentwood and Kentridge boys at 7:15 p.m. The Conquerors and Chargers are rated among the top-10 Class 4A teams in the state by

“For anybody who is a high school basketball fan, it’s the game of the night in the Puget Sound area,” said Steve Turcotte, a Seattle-area promoter who came up with the idea of the Kent Shootout in the new arena. “They’re two, top-10 teams, two of the best in the SPSL and there’s an NCAA Division-I recruit.”

That recruit is Kentwood junior center Joshua Smith. rates the 6-foot-10, 285-pound Smith as the No. 1 player in the nation in the Class of 2010.

Colleges recruiting Smith include Washington, Gonzaga, Washington State, UCLA, North Carolina, Duke and many others.

“If there are not at least 1,500 for the Kentwood-Kentridge game, I’d be surprised,” Turcotte said. “They pack their gyms when they play each other anyway.”

Boys and girls teams from Kentlake, Kent-Meridian, Kentridge and Kentwood high schools will play each other as part of their regular South Puget Sound League schedule. The Shootout begins at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30 with a nonleague boys basketball showdown between Rainier Beach and Central Kitsap.

“It’s an opportunity to show the events center to the basketball community,” said Dave Lutes, athletic director for the Kent School District. “I think fans will really enjoy that.”

Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for students. One ticket is good for all five games. Tickets are available at the ShoWare Center box office, 625 W. James St.

Fans can watch two of the other best boys teams in the state in the afternoon. The Rainier Beach boys are rated No. 1 in the state for Class 3A schools. Central Kitsap is rated No. 9 among Class 4A schools.

The Kentwood girls are the No. 2-ranked team in Class 4A. Kentwood plays the Kentridge girls at 8:45 p.m.

ShoWare officials tested the basketball floor for the first time last week. The arena seats 6,772 for basketball and 6,113 for hockey. The Seattle Thunderbirds junior hockey team plays home games at the ShoWare Center.

“I think it will be a showcase for future basketball games,” said Tim Higgins, ShoWare Center general manager. “We’re looking at other basketball opportunities.”

The Harlem Globetrotters perform Feb. 18 at the events center.

Turcotte said he came up with an idea for high school basketball games at the ShoWare Center when he heard about construction of the arena last year. He also promotes an annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday high school basketball tournament at the University of Washington.

Turcotte said he contacted Lutes as well as ShoWare officials about the potential for high school basketball at the arena and everything fell into place.

In addition to Les Schwab, other sponsors of the Kent Shootout include Green River Community College, Valley Bank, Seattle Chocolates and MultiCare.

Les Schwab Kent Shootout

• What: High school boys and girls basketball games.

• When: Friday, Jan. 30.

• Schedule: Rainier Beach boys vs. Central Kitsap, 2:30 p.m.; Kentlake girls vs. Kent-Meridian, 4 p.m.; Kent-Meridian boys vs. Kentlake, 5:30 p.m.; Kentwood boys vs. Kentridge, 7:15 p.m.; Kentridge girls vs. Kentwood, 8:45 p.m.

• Tickets: Adults, $8; students with ASB card, $4; senior citizens 55 and up, $4; children under 6, free. Tickets available at ShoWare Center box office, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; and before games. Seating is general admission. One ticket good for all games.

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