KENT – Hussayn Ford wanted to give his team a lift.
In the end, he carried Kentridge High School to a 65-61 victory over Arlington Friday night in a Class 4A regional boys basketball game at Kent-Meridian.
Ford scored eight of his 10 points in the final 4½ minutes, including two clinching free throws with one second left, as the fourth-ranked Chargers advance to the state tournament and avoided a disastrous collapse after winning their first 24 games of the season.
Coach Dave Jamison said he looks to the 6-foot-4 junior for a spark of the bench, and Ford simply caught fire.
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“I feel like my energy makes my teammates go,” Ford said.
The Chargers (25-1) were faced with the prospect of going home as they trailed by seven late in the third quarter. But Jawan Stepney warmed up in the fourth and Ford finished with a flair.
His putback with two minutes to play gave Kentridge a 61-58 lead. And after Bradey Brummel tied it with 44 seconds on the clock, Ford hit a floater in the key. He followed with a defensive rebound and later came back with two big free throws after missing a pair.
Kentridge was 24-0 before a humbling 51-36 loss to Beamer in the West Central District championship game last Saturday.
“We didn’t want to feel that way again,” said Stepney, who scored 11 of his 17 points in the final period.
It was a disappointing loss for the seventh-ranked Eagles (20-4), who got a game-high 23 points from Brummel.
“They’re a tough team,” Jamison said. “They’re better than I thought they were going to be.”
Arlington, which was hoping to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish at state, scored nine straight to take an 11-5 lead in the opening quarter, but Kentridge charged back and led 15-14 at the end of the period on a three-pointer by Keasean Kelly, who finished with 17 points.
Then came Arlington’s three-point barrage in a back-and-forth second quarter. The Eagles nailed four straight at one point, but it was a backdoor basket by Brummel that put them up 30-27 at the half.
The Eagles had opportunities to win it in a wild final 3.4 seconds, but couldn’t capitalize.
Mark Morris 67, Renton 29
The defending 2A state champions dominated from start to finish at Kent Meridian High School as the Eaton twins combined for 45 points. Kourtney scored 18 of her 26 in the first half and Karley had 13 of her 19 in the second. The second-ranked Monarchs (21-2), coming off a loss to W.F. West in the Southwest District championship game, led 6-3 before a 23-1 tear.
“I thought we were ready, then we came out and fell apart,” said Renton senior Taylor Farris, who was held to nine points – less than half her season average.
The Indians (19-8), who placed third in last year’s state tournament, made just 2 of 19 shots from the field in the opening half and 11 of 49 for the game, turning the ball over 25 times. They connected on only 3 of 16 free throws. Natajia McMillan finished with a team-high 10 points.