Coach Tim Kelly preaches defense until he’s blue in the face. And when it isn’t sharp, he harps on it. It is the livelihood for Curtis High School boys basketball.
Once in a while, no matter how hard the Vikings try, or what they do, opponents are just able to score easily on them.
Federal Way High School was one of those teams Tuesday night.
Fortunately for the ninth-ranked Vikings, they could also do some scoring, riding four players in double figures to an 82-74 victory over the Eagles in University Place.
Tory Causey led Curtis (14-2, 11-1 in SPSL South) with 21 points. Aushanti Potts-Woods added 18, and Travis Parker and Marcus Stephens chipped in with 15 apiece as the Vikings shot a blistering 60.5 percent from the floor (29 of 48).
Guards Adrian Davis (27 points) and Malik Montoya (24) combined for 51 of the Eagles’ 74 points. Key lapses at the end of each half did in Federal Way (13-3, 10-3), which fell into third place in the SPSL South after being swept by the Vikings.
“They are good players (at Federal Way), and they are good scorers – and we gave them opportunities to score,” Kelly said.
The game was too fluid to Kelly’s liking – the lead changed hands 22 times.
The Vikings held a 48-38 halftime lead, only to watch Federal Way storm back, scoring on 10 of 11 possessions in the third quarter to grab a 59-56 advantage.
With the defense struggling to get stops, Kelly’s team took a different approach – score.
“We just had to jump on them, and keep executing on the offensive end,” Parker said. “That third quarter, we were just (going back and forth), and that is what they wanted us to do.”
Parker scored the Vikings’ first five points of the fourth quarter, which included a 3-pointer to tie the game at 61. Curtis scored on five consecutive trips, too.
But the Eagles would not go away, taking a lead, 71-70, on Tyson Penn’s putback basket with 3:04 remaining.
That is when Kelly switched to a zone defense that caused three consecutive Federal Way turnovers, which were enough to finally seize control of this game.
“In the first half we showed it a couple times, and they stood around a little bit,” Kelly said. “And it got them to stand around a little bit more late.”
Two turnovers came on steals by Stephens and Parker – the last one led to two Stephens’ free throws for a 79-71 Curtis lead at the 1:14 mark.
“Down the stretch, we were right there, and got lackadaisical with the ball and lost our focus and just turned it over,” Eagles coach Jerome Collins said. “They didn’t pressure us, it was just unforced turnovers.”
The Vikings’ win sets up an SPSL South showdown Friday at No. 7 Beamer (12-2, 11-0). If Curtis can get a road victory Friday, it will take a half-game lead in the division, despite losing to Beamer, 62-55, on Jan. 11.
“We talk about putting ourselves in position, so we’ll see if we can go up there and get (a win),” Kelly said.Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 email@example.com