By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
KENT — For three quarters of Friday night’s 4A state-regional game between Arlington and Kentridge, it appeared the Eagles had all the magic they would need to earn a trip to the Tacoma Dome for a second consecutive season.
In the fourth quarter, Kentridge proved why it’s lost just one game.
The Chargers overcame a six-point deficit entering the final quarter behind Jawan Stepney, who scored 11 of his 17 points in the final period, to defeat Arlington 65-61 and earn a spot in the state quarterfinals at the Tacoma Dome.
“I’m so proud of them. The tragedy of this is that five years ago this is a game in Tacoma,” said Arlington coach Nick Brown, referring to Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s change from a 16-team, one-site tourney to the regional format. “I’m sad these guys didn’t get to go back there and I’m sad I didn’t get to go back there, selfishly.”
Senior Bradey Brummel’s 3-pointer with 44 seconds left tied the game at 61, but the Chargers answered with a short jumper in the lane by Hussayn Ford with 25 seconds left to retake the lead 63-61. The Eagles had two more chances to tie, including a set play from under their own basket with 3.4 seconds remaining that nearly worked. Noah Jones controlled a baseball pass at the 3-point line and immediately tried a bounce pass to a teammate cutting to the basket. The pass led his teammate just slightly and the ball rolled out of bounds back to Kentridge.
“We practice that at least twice a week in practice,” Brown said. “We got what we wanted.”
Arlington controlled the game almost from the opening tip, but was never able to create separation between itself and the Chargers. Arlington led by as many as six in the first and seven in the third, but that was as big as the lead would get for either side.
The Chargers closed the first quarter with an 8-2 run to take a 15-14 lead, but the Eagles responded in the second quarter with a barrage from long-range. The Eagles hit four 3s in the quarter, including two from sophomore Donavan Sellgren, to once again seize control.
The Eagles closed out the half with a layup from senior Bradey Brummel with three seconds on the clock to take a 30-27 lead into the locker room.
Brummel finished the first half with 10 points.
Despite holding a lead for nearly every minute of the half, the Eagles led by just three.
Kentridge quickly opened the second half with a 5-0 run to take a 32-30 lead, but it only seemed to awaken the Eagles. Arlington scored 13 of the next 17 points to take its biggest lead of the game.
Just as they did right before halftime, the Eagles closed out the quarter with another backdoor feed, this time to point guard Kaleb Bryson to take a 47-41 lead entering the final stanza.
Jones scored nine of his 13 points in the third quarter.
From the opening moments of the final quarter, the Chargers amped up their defensive pressure and quickly erased the deficit. Before three minutes had ticked off the clock in the game’s final period, Kentridge used an 8-2 run to tie the game at 49. Moments later, Stepney gave the Chargers their first lead since early in the third quarter with a step-back 3 from straight away. The Eagles answered with two free throws from Brummel to briefly retake the lead, but it was their last of the night.
Of the game’s 32 minutes, the Chargers only were in control for four, but it was enough to earn the victory and a trip to Tacoma.
Brummel finished with a game-high 23 points as his Arlington career came to a close. It was also the final high-school game for Noah Jones and Bryson, who finished with 13 and 10 respectively.
“I can’t say enough about my seniors,” Brown said. “The funny thing about that game is we got output from all of our seniors at different spots, which is what this team needs to win.”
Stepney and Keasean Kelly each finished with 17 for the Chargers, but it was Stepney’s big fourth quarter that sealed the victory.
“I’m not walking out of here thinking, ‘Gosh, we should have won,’” Brown said. “I’m thinking we played with one of the best teams in the state. They’re legit. I think we walked into this gym and not many people gave us a chance. We did. We knew. We weren’t surprised.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com.
At Kent Meridian H.S.
Arlington – 14 16 17 14 – 61
Kentridge – 15 12 14 24 – 65
Arlington–Kaleb Bryson 10, Donavan Sellgren 6, Gavin Smoke 0, Shawn Adams 4, Nathan Aune 5, Noah Jones 13, Bradey Brummel 23, Nate Lewis 0, Jeremy Bishop 0. Kentridge–Deon Thomas 7, Jawan Stepney 17, Keasean Kelly 17, Christoph Adams 4, Hussayn Ford 10, Joe Wainhouse 4, Danny Torlai 6. 3-point goals –Brummel 3, Sellgren 2, Aune 1, Kelly 3, Stepney 1, Thomas 1. Record –Arlington 20-4. Kentridge 27-1.