The Kentwood High boys basketball team held a heart-to-heart meeting before its shootaround Thursday. Coach Blake Solomon said the consensus was that the third-ranked Conquerors needed to get back to the team ball that helped them start the year so strong.
And Saturday? They got an especially dominant effort from Malik Sanchez and solid play from the supporting cast in a 70-59 home victory over No. 5 Kentridge to lock up the 4A South Puget Sound League Northeast title.
Sanchez scored a game-high 28 points, with 15 coming off tough offensive rebounds. The offense didn’t need to run through him; he made his own offense.
“That was my biggest thing I wanted to do today was rebound.” said Sanchez, a stout 6-foot-4 senior. “I’m bigger than most of my defenders, so for me to get offensive rebounds, I can get my points that way.”
Kentwood (16-2, 6-0 4A SPSL Northeast) beat Kentridge (14-3, 5-2) both times they played this season, and now the Conks can rest easy in its final two games of the season with the top seed already in hand.
“Kentridge has been our big brother the past couple of years, so this felt good,” said Kentwood coach Blake Solomon. “And we finally got back to playing how we started the season playing.”
The Conks led by 11 points after the first quarter and made 46 percent of its shots in the first half compared to 37 percent for Kentridge to take a 40-27 lead at the break.
The Chargers, just like the first meeting, struggled with Kentwood’s 1-2-2 full-court pressure. They turned the ball over 20 times.
“We did better against it today than the last time we played it,” said Kentridge coach Dave Jamison. The Chargers lost 67-48 on Dec. 16. “They just don’t have any soft spots in their lineup with the four guards and Malik Sanchez. We couldn’t stop him. He could do whatever he wanted. But all their guys are good. They’re tough to beat.”
Preston White scored 14 points and Rayvaughn Bolton had 10 for Kentwood. White hit a 3-pointer with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter to push Kentwood’s lead to 70-53 after Kentridge had cut it to 60-51 on Nick Hopson’s hook shot.
Hopson had 15 points for Kentridge and Micah Simmons had 17.