After squandering a 10-point lead after three quarters by scoring just six points in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s quarterfinal loss to Kentwood, it would have been easy to forgive the sixth-ranked Curtis Vikings for coming out flat in Friday’s loser-out game against Enumclaw at the Tacoma Dome.
The Vikings (22-5) may have started slow, but by the second half of a 64-48 win over the Hornets (16-13), Thursday’s loss was a distant memory.
“As soon as the game was the over last night, we talked a lot about coming back tomorrow, finishing and trying to get to another game,” Curtis head coach Tim Kelly said. “It took a little while, we were a little sluggish, but we finally got it going there in the second half.”
With the Vikings leading by three, Enumclaw’s leading scorer, junior Kaden Anderson, picked up his third foul on a charge with 0.6 seconds left in the second quarter. Despite having three fouls, Anderson started the second half, but he didn’t stay on the court long. With 7 minutes, 8 seconds to play in the third quarter, he picked up his fourth foul while going for a rebound and spent most of the remainder of the quarter on the bench.
With Anderson out, the Vikings outscored the Hornets 21-8 in the period.
“Obviously, it was difficult for us, especially to score the ball,” Enumclaw head coach Terry Johnson said. “In part, because we’re able to play through him in the post a little bit and it opens up things up for other guys. When we took him out, that got hurt a little bit.”
The Vikings quickly went on a 9-2 run after Anderson picked up his fourth foul, with six of the nine points being scored by sophomore guard Zack Paulsen.
“We were struggling with his size in the beginning,” Paulsen said. “We were getting posted up and he was making easy layups. Once he came out of the game, we just jumped on them. We started turning them over and getting easy layups.”
Anderson finished the game with a team-high 18 points.
Paulsen shot 6-for-8 from the field and 7-for-8 from the free-throw line, finishing with a game-high 20 points.
“Zack was a lot more assertive today,” Kelly said. “He had some cuts to the basket and got some offensive rebounds and putbacks.”
Senior John Moore also added 17 points for the Vikings.
The Vikings will play Federal Way, the winner of the previous two 4A state championships, at 8 a.m. on Saturday in the fourth-sixth place game.
“We want to finish on a strong note,” Kelly said. “It’s fourth or sixth, 23 wins or 22 wins. It’s kind of about pride, showing up early and getting after it.”
Curtis: Tashon Brown 2, Zack Paulsen 20, Nate Ward 7, Jordan Parker 4, John Moore 17, Devante Williams-Byrd 5, Jase Paulsen 9.
Enumclaw: Kaden Anderson 18, Griffin Webb 9, Peter Erickson 7, Jacob Revell 7, Keegan Ulrich 5, Dalton Desjardins 2.