For three and a half quarters, Kentwood and Issaquah battled back and forth for fourth place, swapping the lead 16 times and tying 15 times, the last time at 48 midway through the fourth quarter.
Then, the Conquerors' offense stagnated against a zone defense and the Eagles went on a game-ending 13-3 run to take the 4A fourth-place consolation game with a 61-51 victory Saturday morning at the Tacoma Dome.
“We felt like whoever was going to make that first run was going to win the game,” Issaquah coach Jason Griffith said. “We just challenged our kids each quarter, eight more minutes, eight more minutes, get through the next quarter, our run's coming.”
A day after scoring 42 points against Moses Lake, Issaquah guard Ty Gibson led all scorers with 32, including seven free throws during the final run. Gibson shot 10 of 18 from the field and 4 of 7 from three-point range, and made 8 of 9 free throws, setting modern state tournament records in points (87), points per game (29) and free throws made (26) in the process.
Junior guard Jason Crandall added 16 points on 7-for-14 shooting for the Eagles (22-6).
The Conquerors (24-5), who finished in sixth place at state, were led by senior center Malik Sanchez, who had 12 points and 14 rebounds, and senior guard Preston White, who had 12 points. Both fouled out late in the fourth quarter as the game slipped from Kentwood's grasp.
“Our coach told us not to go out there and settle down, and we settled down. We did exactly what he said not to do,” said Kentwood sophomore guard Darius Lubom, who was 5-for-10 from the field for 11 points. “We sat back and they just kept pushing, and they wanted it more than us.”
Lubom was visibly disappointed after how the Conquerors' season ended, but he plans to be back at the Tacoma Dome next year for the state tournament to fix that.
“That's not even a question. No doubt. We'll be here next year,” Lubom said.