Kent high school basketball teams went 2-1 in the accesso ShoWare Center King Showcase on Jan. 16. Kentlake and Kentridge boys had teams represented, and the Kentwood girls team took on opponents in non-league contests.
The Kentridge Chargers took down RPI No. 2 ranked Mount Si by a score of 60-55. In the most recent AP Poll, the Chargers were ranked seventh, and the Mount Si Wildcats were ranked number one.
“It means a lot to us. We’re just getting ready for the playoffs,” said senior Dorian Thomas.
The first quarter was highly competitive, with the quarter closing at a one-point game, 14-13, in favor of Kentridge. The Chargers took a commanding lead into halftime thanks to the play from Elijah Cain coming off the bench — he totaled 11 points in the first half and finished with 15 points. The entire Mount Si bench had five in the entire game. Going into halftime, Kentridge was up 31-21.
Mount Si battled back in the third quarter, partly due to the foul-troubled Charger big men. Seniors Dorian Thomas and Alex Conner picked up four fouls in the third quarter, which allowed the Wildcats to claw their way back into the ball game. At the end of the third quarter, Kentridge led 43-38.
Thomas was able to stay in the game for the entire fourth quarter without picking up that fifth foul.
“I just have to keep my head … I went out there and did my job,” Thomas said.
During the third quarter, coach Dave Jamison could be heard yelling “stay positive” to his team as the Wildcats were inching closer and closer.
“Things aren’t going to always go our way. We managed to make enough buckets and free throws to hold them off,” Jamison said.
During the fourth quarter with just under a minute left, Mount Si got the game within two points, 56-54. The following possession, the Chargers were fouled and would ice the game on free throws. The leading Charger and game high scorer was Jalon Blackwell, who had 21 points, four rebounds and three assists. Cain’s 15 points had him as the only other Charger in double figures.
The win was number 10 in a row for the Chargers, and they had an even bigger test the following day, taking on Tahoma on the road.
But Jamison is up for the challenge: “Tahoma is big, but we just played a team that is bigger. “
The other team that came out victorious was Kentwood’s girls team, which took down Bethel, 47-45. The Conks are on a season-long five game win streak dating back to Dec. 30.
“We talked about how it means a lot to play here, especially on this day. It means a lot to myself and a lot of our girls … It got away from us a little bit, but we just kept battling,” said Head Coach Jordan Nero.
Kentwood jolted out to a quick 6-point lead in the first quarter with great play from sophomore Jessica Ajayi.
The second quarter proved troublesome for the Conquerors, who scored two points the entire quarter, entering halftime down 5 points, 25-20.
The message from coach Nero was to have a short memory: “We don’t want our offense to dictate the defense … we did a nice job of getting stop after stop and not worrying about if the ball’s not going in because eventually it’ll take care of itself.”
But halftime adjustments were made, and Kentwood came out firing. The girls scored 18 points again in the third, and some big shots from junior Niki Boris and senior Dee-Vyne Salu helped tie the game at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was a defensive slugfest, with neither team scoring double digits. Kentwood scored nine points on their way to the two-point win. Ajayi finished with 16 points and six rebounds, Salu finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
Kentwood has their work cut out for them as they take on the top three teams in the NPSL (Tahoma, Decatur, Kentridge). As it currently stands, the Conks sit in third place, but need to win some key games down the stretch.
Kentlake was the one blemish on the basketball court on Monday. They had the difficulty of being the early game, with a 9 a.m. tip-off against the Puyallup Vikings.
“I thought we did a good job playing hard. If we stop their shooters and knock down a couple shots, it’s a different game,” said Head Coach Marcus Wilson.
The Falcons trailed at the end of every quarter in the contest. After the first, they were only down one, 16-15, but a tough second and third quarter put the Falcons in a hole they couldn’t climb out of.
It has been a tough season for the Falcons, but on the bright side, they have played all the tough teams in the NPSL and are only two games back from that fourth spot in the 3A division.
“They don’t ever hold their heads down. When they are down, they continue to play hard, no matter who the opponent is,” Wilson said.
Kentwood girls take on Tahoma on Jan. 20 at 5:30 p.m., and Kentlake’s boys team host Auburn Riverside on the Jan. 20.