Two of the best high school basketball players in Washington – Rainier Beach’s Kevin Porter Jr. and Wilson’s Emmitt Matthews Jr. – met in Thursday’s 3A state quarterfinals.
And both gave memorable performances for different reasons.
Porter, a USC signee, set the tone for his team by scoring 15 points in the first quarter and making timely buckets down the stretch to put the Rams away. Matthews, a UConn signee, led the Rams with 18 points, and showed his resilience by leading them on a late rally where they cut a 17-point deficit down to four in the fourth quarter.
And this was less than two weeks after announcing his season was over on Twitter after breaking his right wrist.
But in the end, the Vikings of the 3A Metro League held on for an 80-70 victory and will face No. 2 Lincoln at 5:30 p.m. in Friday’s semifinals.
“It feels good,” Porter said. “We were in this position last year and we ended up losing to Garfield, so we got another opportunity and hopefully we’re going to end up getting the victory this year.”
Porter scored the first eight points of the game on his way to 15 in the first quarter, before the Rams finally settled down.
“That’s kind of been our Achilles’ heel,” Wilson coach Dave Alwert said. “We start off the game a little too extended, wanting to meet up with them and see what they have and it just opens up too many driving lanes. (Porter) got hot. He lost us twice in the first three possessions for two 3s in that left corner. You can’t let a really good player get hot like that.”
The Rams battled back late in the first quarter and kept the game close throughout the first half. The Vikings extended their lead to 17 early in the fourth quarter on a Porter Jr. 3-pointer before the Rams went on a furious rally that would get them as close as four in the game’s final minutes.
Matthews played a key role in the rally. His five consecutive points after falling behind by 17, started the comeback. He finished with 18 for the second consecutive game despite having a broken wrist.
“I can’t say enough about his heart and spirit, the kid that started with me and the man that will leaving our program,” Alwert said. “I’m just super-proud of him. For a kid to come out like that and play with a broken hand, it just shows how much passion he has for this game. He really loves the game of basketball.”
Rainier Beach was able to extend its lead thanks, in part, to two technical fouls against the Rams, one on the Wilson bench and the other on senior guard Londrell Hamilton in the early moments of the fourth quarter. The technical foul on Hamilton was also his fifth personal foul, sending him out the game.
“We got it down to 64-60 and you can go back to those two technicals and then giving them two extra possessions on top of that,” Alwert said. “Those hurt, but I’m proud of my kids. I liked the fight that they gave. We’ve got to learn from that. We shouldn’t be getting any technicals.”
Rainier Beach senior guard Tre Anderson, who was last year’s Pierce County League player of the year while playing at Lincoln, played his first game against a Tacoma school since transferring to Rainier Beach before the beginning of the school year. Anderson will face the Abes for the first time in Friday’s semifinals.
“We’ve been wanting to play them since the beginning of the season because we got Tre Anderson,” Porter Jr. said. “A lot of stuff happened on social media so we’ve been waiting for them and we’re ready for them.”
Wilson: Damani Green 14, Emmitt Matthews Jr. 18, Nathan Stokes 17, Londrell Hamilton 5, Darrian Bates 0, Emani Mitchell 0, Daniel Santana 9, Adam Maxon 0, Kiwani Thomas 4, Dominique Ellison 3.
Rainier Beach: Tre Anderson 28, Freddy Roberson 2, Kevin Porter Jr. 29, Stevie Smith 9, Michah Monroe 0, Anthony Still 2, Kenny Curtis 5, Nate Murray 1, Hamza Mohaba 0, Kendall Williams 2, Orin Patu 2.