BOYS BASKETBALL: Hartnett-led Kentlake slips past Kent-Meridian, 56-53

The Kentlake High boys basketball team needed a big-time performance Friday night at the ShoWare Center to stay in the playoff hunt.

Senior forward Sean Hartnett provided exactly that, scoring a season-high 24 points to lift the Falcons past Kent-Meridian 56-53 in the Les Scwhab Kent Shootout. The Falcons (5-7 in league, 8-8 overall) were in dire need of a performance exactly like the one Harnett served up as they remain on the outside looking in on the playoff race.

The top five teams in the South Puget Sound League North Division advance to the postseason. Even with the win in hand, Kentlake remains seventh out of nine in the pecking order.

A playoff berth, however, remains a possibility.

That being the case, Friday night’s win over the Royals (8-5, 11-6) was huge.

“Without that win, we wouldn’t be able to make the playoffs,” said Hartnett, who connected on 10 of 12 from the field and also grabbed five rebounds. “Now we just need to close it out.”

The key to Hartnett’s big night was the team’s passing game, said coach Ron Charrier.

“The guys worked to get him the ball,” Charrier said. “We moved the ball around really well tonight.”

Kentlake had 14 total assists as a team, led by the five of Brady Johnson and four by Blake Johnson.

“They were the Wonder Twins,” Charrier laughed.

And the Falcons needed every ounce of it in a game that included eight ties and four lead changes. Kentlake didn’t take the lead for good until Daniel Landram went baseline for a layup off glass with three minutes remaining in the game, giving the Falcons a 52-51 lead.

Kent-Meridian had a chance to tie as time expired, but was unable to get a good look at the basket.

The Royals were playing without their second-leading scorer Tyree Bagley, who sprained an ankle Tuesday night against Auburn Riverside. Bagley isn’t expected back until next week.

“He needed to be out,” said Kent-Meridian coach Brian Lockhart.

The Royals were led by D’Juan Miller, who came off the bench to score a team-high 20 points, including four 3-pointers.

Kent-Meridian connected on just 7 of 27 from 3-point land.

“They forced us to take a lot of jump shots and we didn’t hit any,” Lockhart said. “Other than D’Juan, we just couldn’t hit a shot. I think we could have won it if we hit some shots.”

Kent-Meridian built a 19-12 first-quarter lead behind a 3-for-3 3-point performance by Miller. It was the biggest lead either team would hold on the night. Kentlake went on a 14-4 second-quarter run to take a 26-23 lead. Hartnett delivered six points during the spurt. Neither team led by more than five points the rest of the game.

Outside of Hartnett, Daniel Landram added 11 points while Austin Pernell chipped in 10. Jordan Thompson Walker, who scored 10 points, was the only Royal other than Miller to reach double figures.

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