With the game — and the Class 3A South Puget Sound League title slipping away — the veteran Auburn Mountainview boys basketball team didn’t panick.
Despite not scoring for the first 5 minutes, 16 seconds in the fourth quarter, the Lions led by junior guard Ryan Lacey rallied to knock off visiting Peninsula 52-46 on Tuesday and sew up the SPSL title.
“After we couldn’t make shot after shot after shot, our motto just became: Slow it down, be patient, get a good shot,” said Lacey, who finished with a team-leading 20 points. “We can’t be forcing up bad shots. We need good shots and we did that.”
The Lions cut the lead to 43-41, and then went on a tear. Lacey scored on a fast break layup to tie the game, junior guard Robbie Wilson completed a three-point play, and junior center Tristan Miguel tacked on a layup to put the game out of reach for Peninsula.
“It’s the first time in our school history (winning the league title) so we’re proud to leave a legacy here,” said Lacey, of the school that opened in 2005. “We’re just real proud for all of our students, all the past players that haven’t got to experience this — this is for them.”
The first time these two teams met earlier in the season, Peninsula junior guard JaQuori McLaughlin scored 38 points. This time, he was held to six, all on free throws. Junior guard Ki’Jan Weisinger shadowed McLaughlin the entire game and the nearest defender always double teamed.
“We defended him way differently,” Auburn Mountainview coach Thomas Ostrander said. “We changed things up a lot. He’s a great player. You can’t stop guys like that, you’ve just got to contain them. I think tonight, we did a pretty good job on that.”
While the constant double teams left other players open, the strategy worked for the Lions.
“Obviously, he’s a great player,” Lacey said. “All respect to him. He’s fantastic. But we told our guys that we’re going to make the other guys beat us. As good as he is, we’re going to force the other guys to beat us.”
So they played some defense.
Washington (15-4, 12-2 Class 2A South Puget Sound League) led 14-4 after the first quarter and held on from there behind Tory Causey’s team-high 12 points. The Patriots reclaimed the top spot in the 2A SPSL with River Ridge’s loss to Clover Park.
Thayer Murphy led River Ridge (14-5, 10-3 2A SPSL) with 19 points. Clover Park (12-7, 7-6) ended a two-game losing skid.
River Ridge and Washington each have one game remaining. The Hawks could still win the league title with a win and Patriots loss in each team’s final game of the season Friday.
She was the Curtis coach Tuesday. But behind Jalaiya Frederick’s 23 points and Anna Matz’s 15 rebounds and four blocks, the Vikings outlasted the Braves in a tiebreaker game at Todd Beamer High School for their first South title since Thomas’ senior year in 2004.
“I just told them, ‘This is an alum talking – I am so proud of you,’ ” Thomas said.
Curtis (17-4, 12-1 Class 4A SPSL South) trailed Bethel (13-6, 11-2) by two entering the fourth quarter. Thomas noticed her team play far more fired up in the final quarter.
“We talk about pride, heart and passion. You could see the heart tonight,” Thomas said. “We didn’t do everything right, but you could see the heart at the end of the game.”
Me’osha Mack led the Braves with 18 points. Both of the Braves’ two league losses came to Curtis. And the Vikings haven’t lost since losing to Bethel on Jan. 6.