Dominic Robinson scored 25 points and led a comeback victory by Curtis as the Vikings handed the top-ranked Bulldogs their first loss since November.
TACOMA — As soon as the buzzer sounded Friday night, the black-or-white emotions of the state basketball tournament came pouring out.
On one side of the court stood Dominic Robinson and his Curtis teammates, celebrating and smiling after completing a gutsy comeback for a 70-66 overtime win against No. 1 Garfield in the Class 4A state semifinals.
The win assured Robinson and his teammates that their dream of winning a state title remained intact. Sixth-ranked Curtis (26-2) will play Jackson in the championship game at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.
Garfield (24-2) plays Arlington for third place at 11:15 a.m.
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“That was the hardest game I’ve ever played in,” Robinson said. “I’m in tears right now. This is the best thing ever.”
On the other side of the court, Garfield senior Tucker Haymond immediately fell into the arms of his coach, Ed Haskins and started crying. He could hardly even stand.
For four years, he had put everything he had into leading Garfield to a state title. He had wanted it so bad and pursued it with a central focus, and here, inside the Tacoma Dome, it came to a cruel end.
“I’ve been down here four times, and I haven’t won one once,” Haskins said. “But this has been the hardest. These kids worked their butts off for this. They worked their butts off all year.”
Curtis clawed back from an 11-point deficit in the second half. The Vikings’ defense, their calling card all season, delivered again. Curtis’ pressure forced 17 turnovers, leading to steals and layups late in the game.
Robinson’s two free throws with 59 seconds left in regulation gave Curtis a 60-59 lead. But Demario Hall forced OT by making one of two free throws for Garfield with 30 seconds left.
Haymond, who finished with 16 points, opened overtime with a three-pointer. But Robinson matched him.
“I could kind of see it in his face that he wasn’t going to let us go down,” Curtis coach Tim Kelly said of Robinson.
After Haymond hit one of two free throws to give Garfield a one-point lead midway through overtime, Tory Causey and Robinson answered with consecutive layups for Curtis.
Garfield got one more chance at the end.
With five seconds left and the Bulldogs down two, Torrence Baker, who had a huge first half, tried to throw an inbounds pass to Haymond at midcourt. But Curtis forward Andre Lewis beat him to the ball and effectively ended the game with two free throws.
“We knew it was going to Tucker,” Lewis said. “That’s their best player. I knew I wasn’t letting Tucker get that.”
It was Garfield’s first loss since the season opener in November. The Bulldogs had met all challenges since then and looked poised to do the same early against Curtis.
Baker and Trevaunté Williams, Garfield’s two powerful forwards, dominated the paint in the first half. But Curtis limited the pair after halftime when Kelly deployed a little-used zone that allowed the Vikings to collapse inside.
Williams, who fouled out with 2:31 left in overtime and Curtis up one, finished with 20 points and six rebounds for Garfield. Baker added 15 points and six rebounds.
“If you look at the stats, we got beat on a lot of them,” Kelly said. “But down the stretch, we found a way to make plays.”
Robinson made most of them, leading Curtis with 25 points and playing all 36 minutes. Causey, who played extensively after starter Dominique Jordan fouled out, added 13.
“We played our hearts out,” Lewis said.
Both sides did.