MUKILTEO — Kamiak guard Carson Tuttle, one after another, is laying claim to school records and milestones.
The star junior guard a week ago broke the Knights all-time record for most points in a career and during a pivotal Wesco 4A home matchup against Monroe, Tuttle surpassed the 1,000-point career scoring mark while tying Kamiak’s single-game scoring record.
But for as prolific a scorer as Tuttle is, his defense ended up tilting the game’s outcome in Kamiak’s favor during the final minutes.
Monroe trailed by two possessions with just two minutes to play when Tuttle, on back-to-back possessions, stole the ball from Bearcats guard Justin Folz before scoring both times on the other end and essentially putting the game away.
“That is 90 percent of our practice,” said Tuttle of how much time Kamiak devotes to defense. “That’s something I’m really working on getting better at, just being a leader on defense as well as the offensive end.”
Tuttle’s offensive production has never been in question. He scored a game-high 35 points, and backcourt mate Christian Clausen poured in 19 with five 3s to lead the Knights to an 82-73 win and a season sweep of the Bearcats on Friday night at Kamiak High School.
The win was critical for the Knights (14-4, 9-2 Wesco 4A), who are in a tight race with Monroe (12-5, 7-4) and Glacier Peak atop the league standings.
Kamiak was coming off an emotional one-point win against rival Mariner three nights prior, and the Knights, who have now won seven straight, were playing without Landon Overtuff, who has started the past five games but was out with an illness.
“We talked about it after the Mariner game, every game from now on out is a playoff game,” Kamiak coach Cory West said. “That is our mentality. That’s all we’ve been preaching to the guys, and the guys stepped up. This was a huge game for us.”
Kamiak led the majority, but the Knights had their hands full with 6-foot-7 forward Colby Kyle, who finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, and sharpshooter Trenton Newhouse, who scored 22. Folz also chipped in 17.
But every time Monroe made a run to climb back into the game, Kamiak responded.
Folz gave Monroe its first lead, 56-55, since early in the first quarter with a layup off an assist from Isiah Cole with 6:55 to play in the fourth, but Kamiak’s Keller Whitney helped put the Knights back in front by scoring six of Kamiak’s eight points after the game was tied at 60.
A deep triple from Clausen gave Kamiak a 71-64 lead with 2:30 to play.
“We just focused on staying calm and playing our game,” Tuttle said. “We didn’t really want to get caught up in Monroe’s game, (its) shooting and all that. We wanted to focus on what we do and what we do in practice.”
Tuttle’s two late steals and a key charge taken by Daniel Sharpe were difference-making plays down the stretch.
“I think it was just a lot of heart,” said Tuttle of how Kamiak was able to pull the win out. “I mean, we wanted to win the game. There were a lot of guys in the huddle; they were ready to get after it. They just wanted to get the win.”
Next up is a marquee matchup against Glacier Peak on Tuesday at Glacier Peak High School. It’s a game Tuttle said his Knights have been looking forward to since they lost to the Grizzlies 63-50 back on Jan. 6.