With Garfield leading by 11 points with less than three minutes to play in Friday’s 3A state quarterfinal against Rainier Beach, most people in the Tacoma Dome probably thought the Bulldogs had the game locked up.
Garfield head coach Ed Haskins knew better.
The Vikings used an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to one, but the Garfield senior Jaylen Nowell made two free throws and Rainier Beach junior Freddie Roberson missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds that would’ve tied the game and Garfield escaped with a 59-58 win.
“That’s a team that’s won four out of the last five state championships. I know (Rainier Beach head coach Mike Bethea), I sat next to him for nine years, he’s never going to quit. His team’s never going to quit. I have respect for that. I have the utmost respect for that. They’re champions, and they’re still champions. Losing a game doesn’t mean you’re not a champion.”
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Rainier Beach got back into the game, in part, because of Garfield’s struggles at the free-throw line, where it shot just 19-for-38.
Until the final minute of the third quarter, neither team led by more than three points as Nowell and Rainier Beach junior Kevin Porter Jr. traded blows throughout the game. But Nowell and the Bulldogs used a 7-0 run in the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 11.
Nowell finished with a team-high 24 points, none bigger than the two free throws he made with 10.7 seconds remaining.
“Jaylen is a primetime player,” Haskins said. “Jaylen is underrated, Jaylen is vastly underrated. His heart is huge. …I had no question in my mind that he was going to knock down those two free throws. I’m very, very proud of him.”
Rainier Beach junior Kevin Porter Jr. led all scorers with 28.
“Kevin Porter is an amazing talent,” Haskins said. “He’s the next great one out of Rainier Beach. He’s a beast, and he’s just got the heart of a champion.”
NO. 5 RAINIER BEACH
NO. 2 GARFIELD
Rainier Beach: Kahlil Shabazz 4, TiJon Rodde 16, Kevin Porter Jr. 28, Freddie Roberson 8, Joe Saterfield 2.
Garfield: Jamon Kemp 2, Daejon Davis 14, Edward Turner 10, Jaylen Nowell 24, J’Raan Brooks 9.