Top-ranked Rainier Beach won the Metro League championship with a win over Lakeside in which tempers flared and three technical fouls were issued.
Say this for Friday’s Metro League championship game: It certainly didn’t lack for drama. Not by any measure.
The game featured a staggering 14-0 run in the second quarter from Rainier Beach, an on-court scuffle in the third quarter, three technical fouls and an ejection and one last surge from Lakeside in the fourth quarter.
And, in the end, it featured No. 1 Rainier Beach posing with the Metro League championship trophy after bunkering down for a 69-61 win against No. 4 Lakeside at Garfield High School.
“We made the big plays when we needed to make the big plays offensively and defensively,” Rainier Beach coach Mike Bethea said.
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Rainier Beach (19-3) held a 14-point lead at halftime, but Lakeside (18-4) used the third quarter to storm right back.
And it was during that run when things got chippy. After a foul stopped play, a scuffle between players broke out in the corner of the court. Players from both teams jumped in, and coaches and security rushed onto the court.
After a lengthy delay, Lakeside guard Tramaine Isabell and Beach guard Shaqquan Aaron received technical fouls. Beach guard Marquis Davis, who led the Vikings with 16 points, was ejected, and Bethea picked up a technical foul.
“It was a heated game,” Bethea said.
Lakeside guard Matthew Poplawski hit four free throws in the aftermath, cutting Rainier Beach’s lead to four with 1:03 left in the third. But Beach never let Lakeside get within three.
It would be that way throughout: Lakeside getting close enough to make the finish interesting, but the Vikings always answering. It was a far closer game than when the teams played three weeks ago, when Beach won by 14.
“The things you take away from this are: One, it’s not the last step,” Lakeside coach Tavio Hobson said. “But the other thing is we can play with anybody if we play the right way.”
In the fourth quarter, most of Beach’s answers came from Djuan Piper, a 6-foot-6 senior who was a contributor on Beach’s Class 3A state-championship team last season.
Piper scored 10 points and had six rebounds in the fourth quarter and had three putbacks when Lakeside started getting close. He finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds in leading Beach to its 13th straight win.
“That’s just a guy making plays and, more importantly, a guy who has that championship experience making plays,” Bethea said.
Isabell led Lakeside with 18 points, including 13 in the second half. Poplawski added 14, including 11 after halftime.
Aaron, one of the area’s top scorers, finished with a season-low seven points.
Rainier Beach gets the No. 1 seed out of Metro in the Sea-King 3A District tournament next week, while Lakeside is the second seed. Both teams play next on Tuesday.