Puyallup High boys basketball coach Scott Campbell decided to make some changes after his halftime adjustments Tuesday night didn’t click with his team.
After splitting the season series and tying Emerald Ridge for second place in the 4A South Puget Sound League South Division, Puyallup had fallen behind its city rival midway through the third quarter of its SPSL South tiebreaker at Spanaway Lake High.
Not seeing a way out of the Jaguars’ full-court trap defense, Campbell called a timeout to regroup with 5 minutes left in the third.
“We just made a couple adjustments of what we were doing defensively against them,” he said. “Really, it was just rebound, get a stop and (keep) trying to score.”
It was a different Puyallup (16-5, 8-4) defense coming out of the timeout, as the Vikings went on a 15-0 run while their defense shut down Emerald Ridge’s offense for the rest of the quarter. The Vikings used that run to cruise to a 56-44 win over the Jaguars (10-10, 8-4), securing a trip to the ShoWare Center to host Kentridge (11-9).
“I thought our guys did a lot better job in the second half getting their shots, rebounding and defending the 3-point line,” Campbell said. “It was a typical rivalry game. I thought ER played really hard, but we were able to make a couple more shots.”
With Devin Neff entering the game leading his team with 19.3 points per game, Emerald Ridge began double-teaming Puyallup’s top scorer in the second half. That opened up chances for Puyallup’s third and fourth option players, Brennan Winter (13 points) and Landen Neff (seven points).
“Today (was) just everyone shots and moving the ball,” Devin Neff said. “That first half was just us not moving the ball.”
Devin Neff finished with a game-high 17 points, but it was his directing the offense in the second half that propelled the Vikings to the win.
“It had to be done to get the win,” Neff said with a laugh.
Andrew Boston (five points) ended the Jaguars’ scoring drought with a putback, bringing the deficit to 45-38 and trying to spark his team back into the game. But Winter made a momentum-killing layup after shaking a defender on a feed from Devin Neff, who cut to the middle of the key before finding the junior in the corner.
Puyallup was able to grind out the win as Emerald Ridge’s final run came too late in the fourth.
“We start with good energy, but then all of a sudden, they start taking the ball to the rim and our guys weren’t moving their feet. And then we didn’t make any shots,” Emerald Ridge coach Pat Mullen said. “Yeah, we just didn’t do a very good job defensively in the second half.”
Puyallup’s game against Kentridge will start at 4 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 4) at ShoWare. Emerald Ridge will play Saturday against a to-be-determined opponent.
Puyallup 37, Bethel 31
The way Hannah McCann plays defense embodies the spirit of the Vikings girls basketball team, as the team defense-first mentality overmatched the Braves late in their SPSL South second-place tiebreaker game at Spanaway Lake.
“The first half we were clustered (offensively), and the second half we tried to spread out and play our game,” McCann said.
Puyallup (14-7, 8-4) was able to lock down Bethel (11-8, 8-4) leading scorer Tianna Brown in the second half and pull past the Braves for the win.
“We made sure we had people (with) full energy on her the whole time,” McCann said.
Puyallup plays Kentridge (15-5) at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 4) at ShoWare.
“It was tough the first half, especially because we came out a little nervous,” Sophie DeWitt said. “We were saying ‘We can talk about it — we can say all the things we need to do, but actions speak louder than words.’”