Aushanti Potts-Woods said he just told his team to keep pushing. To be confident.
Sixteen consecutive points later, his fourth-ranked Curtis High School boys basketball team was on its way to a 68-60 victory against Puyallup on Tuesday in a Class 4A South Puget Sound League South Division game at Puyallup High School.
The win comes after having trailed the entire game until about six minutes remaining in the final period.
“I just kept telling my team to be confident in yourselves and good things will happen,” said Potts-Woods, the reigning Class 4A South Puget Sound League South Division MVP who scored a game-high 24 points.
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“And good things happened.”
Curtis (4-0, 3-0) handed Puyallup (4-1, 1-1) its first loss of the season despite trailing by double digits in the first half.
But Curtis extended its win streak over Puyallup to eight games dating back to 2010 after switching to a 2-2-1 zone press.
And Curtis senior guard Glenn Jordan got hot. He had four points until he raced to the basket to score just before the end of the third quarter, cutting Puyallup’s lead to 46-43.
He then scored Curtis’ first basket of the fourth quarter and finished the game with 21 points — 15 in the fourth quarter.
“I had to step it up in the second half,” said Jordan, who scored most of his points by attacking the hoop and finished 8 for 10 from the floor. “I knew they couldn’t stop me if I could get to the hole. Coach wants me to attack whenever I can and that’s what I did.”
Puyallup made its first field goal of the fourth quarter on Landen Neff’s three-point play with 56 seconds remaining and Curtis leading, 62-52.
“I think our press had a lot to do with that,” Curtis coach Tim Kelly said. “We tried to press man-to-man and we were giving up too much penetration, so we went to the 2-2-1 to see what we could get.”
Said Puyallup coach Scott Campbell: “It changed the game and changed the flow of the game. That was a contributing factor for sure. It wasn’t an overwhelming press, but it was something different and it took us a while to adjust to that.”
Deven Neff scored a team-high 23 points for Puyallup after back-to-back games with 28 points.
Puyallup forced 11 of Curtis’ 19 turnovers in the first half and took a 32-21 lead with 2:01 remaining in the second quarter after an 8-0 run.
Curtis junior forward John Moore added 14 points and 11 rebounds. The win pushed Curtis’ 4A SPSL South win streak to 18 games dating back to the 2013-14 season when it lost to Todd Beamer, which is now part of the 4A SPSL Northwest.
“(Puyallup) was a team picked by others to challenge us, and to come out on the road against their style and fight through some adversity — I told them after that I was proud of the way they didn’t give in,” Kelly said. “Keep doing what they do and all of a sudden we turn the game on a couple of possessions. Defense leads to that.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677; @TJCotterill