Youth can be a funny thing. Some days on the basketball court, it can be fickle. On others, it is a sight to behold.
And on Saturday night, youth was heard from in a big way.
Next year was supposed to be Curtis High School girls basketball’s climb in the SPSL South — or so many thought. Not anymore after Jackie Thomas’ group pulled off a stunning 42-33 win over 10th-ranked Puyallup in University Place.
The loss puts Puyallup (9-3, 7-3 SPSL South) in a real bind if it is going to chase down league leader Todd Beamer.
The victory catapulted Curtis (12-3, 8-3) into an unfamiliar position — sole possession of second place as the second half of league season gets going.
Sierra Dean led Curtis with 18 points, but it was the relentless, stifling defense that carried this young team to its biggest win in some time.
Puyallup led 29-28 entering the fourth quarter, riding the inside play of Marissa Miller (15 points). But it suffered through a miserable final eight minutes — 1 of 12 field goals with four shots blocked, seven turnovers and zero pushback.
“We’ve got to trust each other,” Puyallup coach Cherokee Ainslie said. “(Our players) want to win, and I don’t want to take that away from them. It wasn’t clicking. We are in that lull right now.”
Meanwhile, Curtis — which lost two of its first three games this season, including a 62-28 shellacking at Puyallup — is showing signs of growing up.
Two Curtis ninth-graders, guards Peightyn Perrien and Kaelin Williams-Kennedy, are significant contributors. A trio of sophomore posts (Cedrice Howard, Anna Matz and Makenna Woodfolk) defends well.
But in the clutch, it was senior point guard Quashaya Hammon who was the disrupter, forcing Puyallup into its rash of turnovers.
“She is kind of our heart and soul,” Thomas said. “She can do things. Her mere presence is kind of intimidating. Once she gets going, the rest of (the players) feed off her.”
Curtis went on an 8-0 run, capped by Williams-Kennedy putback, to grab a 36-29 lead with 4:08 to go.
“They were starting to get frustrated because we started playing the lockdown defense we needed to play,” Hammon said.
Braylie Jeffers’ basket ended Puyallup’s 5:04 scoreless span to start the final quarter, triggering a 4-0 run to cut it to 36-33 at the 2:26 mark.
But Dean hit a big runner in the lane 21 seconds later to push it to 38-33, and Puyallup never threatened again.
“We’ve grown … from the passion side of it,” Thomas said.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442