Kentwood High was swept on the basketball court Jan. 19 by the Tahoma Bears in both the girls and the boys games.
The girls currently sit in fourth place in the NPSL while the boys dropped to sixth. The girls fell by a score of 54-39 and the boys couldn’t slow down the surging Bears losing 76-53.
The girls have lost five straight games against the Bears dating back to Dec. 19, 2020. It was also the first league loss of the season for the Conks.
“I thought we competed our butts off… Last year we would have waived the white flag, but this year we climbed our way back and made a game of it. I am proud of their effort,” said Kentwood girls coach Jordan Nero.
Kentwood boys coach Blake Solomon also liked the heart his team showed in the loss.
“We knew coming into tonight it was going to be an uphill battle to a degree, and I thought we responded pretty well,” Solomon said.
The challenge for the Kentwood girls was they struggled to score in the early moments of the first quarter. The Conquerors totaled nine points in the first quarter, and in the second they scored just four points. Kentwood went into halftime trailing 28-13.
“It’s hard to spot a team that good, that big of a lead,” Nero said.
The Conks cut the lead to single digits in the fourth quarter.
“In the second half the girls figured out it had to be max effort for the entirety of the game,” Nero said.
The boys were locked in a battle from the start, it was a challenge for this young Kentwood team in a different way than the girls. Five out of the six Tahoma starters were listed at 6 feet 5 inches or taller, not a single Kentwood player is listed over 6-3.
“Coming into tonight we knew we had no choice but to be physical…With their length on defense it is really tough to get anything at the rim because they recover so quickly. It was just a tough night, they are a really good team,” Solomon said.
The turning point for the boys was the start of the second half. At halftime the Conks trailed by five points, the closest they would ever be to the Bears. To begin the second half, Tahoma went 4 for 4 and jumped out to an 11-point lead. A gap that Solomon and the Conquerors would never close the rest of the game.
“The first four minutes of that (third) quarter was the only part of the game I was truly disappointed with. I felt like we didn’t come out of halftime real physical,” Solomon said. “Once we got in that hole, they’re too good to come back from double digits.”
Both Kentwood teams may have lost their matchups but both teams had great performances from their players.
On the girls side senior Dee-Vyne Salu finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.
“Early on she put her impact on the game, she was all over the boards,” Nero said.
Sophomore Jaeveion Jamerson was one of the few bright spots in the second half keeping the boys close to the Bears.
“He’d been playing really well, but then had a rough couple of outings. …the coaches worked with him this week on getting him back to who he was, and I thought in the second half he did that,” Solomon said. “I was glad to see him back on track, we need him.”
Jamerson finished with eight points, all in the second half. Sophomore Mason St. Louis led the Conks with 17.
Both teams will not play Tahoma again the rest of the regular season, but may run into them in the playoffs.
“Hopefully we keep working and getting better and are able to get a second chance,” Nero said.
Kentwood’s boys lost to Issaquah Jan. 20, 70-52. The message after Friday’s loss is:
“We just have to bounce back, we have no choice,” Solomon said.
The boys next home game is Friday, Jan. 27 when they take on Federal Way; the girls travel to Federal Way.