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BOYS BASKETBALL: Kent-Meridian stuns third-ranked Kentwood 47-42
The Kent-Meridian High boys basketball team has taken plenty of punches to the gut the last several years in the South Puget Sound League North Division.
Tuesday night, the Royals punched back.
D’Juan Miller scored a team-high 11 points, including seven in the pivotal fourth quarter, and Tyree Bagley added 10 more, leading the Royals to a 47-42 upset of third-ranked Kentwood at Green River Community College.
“This is a big win for us,” said Miller, K-M’s lightning-quick, 5-foot-6 point guard. “We were 1-15 (in league) for a long time now, probably five years and coming in … people were doubting us and we wanted to prove them wrong.”
How big was the win for the Royals?
K-M hadn’t beaten Kentwood since Dec. 7, 2004, a stretch of 12 straight losses. During that run of losses, it wasn’t close, either. In fact, during that span, the Conquerors average win over the Royals was by 22 points.
Tuesday night, however, thanks to a break-neck pace and high-intensity defense throughout, the Royals (4-1 in league, 6-3 overall) were able to get it done. K-M’s four league wins are more than it has had in the last two years combined.
“I think it’s a boost for the school and the community,” said Kent-Meridian coach Brian Lockhart, who was an assistant at Kentwood three years ago. “It has been known, (Kentwood) is the team. That’s the clear-cut favorite. I call it a big gorilla off (our) back.”
By no means, however, did it come easy.
Kent-Meridian used its finest first quarter of the season to take a 22-7 lead through the first eight minutes. As anticipated, however, Kentwood methodically worked its way back into the game, tying the score 30-30 at the end of the third quarter on a pair of free throws by Taylor Jones.
Miller followed by splitting the Kentwood defense for a layup, helping the Royals regain the lead, 32-30. The Conquerors (4-2, 8-2) continued to work its way back, knotting the score 40-40 on a bucket in the paint by Jason Boyce.
In past games this season, the Royals have folded after taking early leads. In addition, Kentwood has shown the ability to come back time and time again, most recently erasing a 15-point deficit with four minutes left against Mount Rainier Dec. 17 on the way to a 63-62 win.
Tuesday night, however, the Royals would not fold.
After Boyce tied the game, Bagley found enough breathing room for a baseline layup. Moments later, Miller connected from 10 feet out, giving K-M a 44-40 advantage with 1:30 remaining.
This time, the Conquerors would not have enough gas in the tank – or time on the clock –
to come all the way back.
“When you don’t come out ready to play, that’s what happens,” said first-year Kentwood coach Brian Davis. “We haven’t played in two weeks, and it looked like it. They’re a good team and they got it done. My hat is off to them.”
Jones led Kentwood with 11 points. Boyce, Kentwood’s leading scorer at 14.7 points per game, was held to a season-low six points. In addition, Kentwood missed all eight of its 3-point attempts. Kent-Meridian was 3 of 17 from behind the arc.
Jordan Thompson Walker added nine for K-M while Martel Taylor-Barone chipped in seven.