The North Division champion Conquerors won for the eighth time in nine games, surprising the South co-champion Vikings for the title.
KENT — Isaiah Malvar doesn’t mind coming off the bench.
Not if it means more victories for his Kentwood High School boys basketball team.
“It’s looking good,” the senior guard said after leading the Conquerors to a 49-41 upset victory over eighth-ranked Curtis in the championship game of the South Puget Sound League 4A tournament Friday at the ShoWare Center.
Malvar led a balanced offense with 11 points, including a pair of key free throws with 1:07 left. He followed with an assist to Taylor Jones for an inside bucket that helped clinch the victory, Kentwood’s fourth straight and ninth in the past 10 games.
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“Everyone on our team contributes,” Malvar said. “That’s what we do. The second team, we push the starting people to do better and that makes us better.”
The Conquerors (15-6) open West Central/Southwest 4A Bi-District play Tuesday at home against the winner of Saturday’s pigtail game between Spanaway Lake and Battle Ground.
Curtis (13-7), which had an eight-game win streak snapped, plays at home against the loser of Saturday’s SPSL contest between Kentlake and Rogers of Puyallup.
The victory was a bit of payback for Kentwood, which was thumped by Curtis in final of last year’s bi-district tournament. The Vikings went on to place second at state.
“It’s great to play well on a big stage,” Kentwood coach Brian Davis said. “The guys really stepped up. I think what it means to them is that when they play like they’re supposed to, we have a lot of fun. We have a lot of fun and we can do a lot of things together. … They just believe in each other and really trust each other to make plays.”
Neither team made many good offensive plays early. Kentwood trailed 11-9 three minutes into the second period when Malvar and Taylor Jones accounted for an 8-0 spurt. The Vikings, who shot just 24.1 percent from the field in the opening half, closed it to 17-15 with 2 ½ minutes left, but Kentwood answered with a pair of unanswered baskets to take a 22-15 lead into the locker room.
The Conquerors went up by 10 early in the third period, then went cold, scoring just one basket over the next four minutes. Still, they were up 30-23, but went the final 2:41 of the quarter without a point as the Vikings closed it to 30-28.
Dominique Robinson gave Curtis a 31-30 lead with a three-pointer to start the fourth, but Kentwood quickly went back on top and never trailed again. Robinson scored 17 points for Curtis and Jaurence Chisholm added 10. Darius Johnson-Wilson, who came in averaging a team-best 15.7 points per game, was held to just one.
Kent-Meridian 46, Federal Way 39
The Royals (15-7), enjoying their best season since 2004-05, won it with defense. Federal Way (15-6), which actually shared the South Division title with Curtis but has lost to the Vikings twice, came in averaging nearly 58 points per game and was held to a season low.
The Eagles shot just 30.4 percent from the field and got the bulk of their scoring from three players — D’londo Tucker (11), Brayone Blake (11) and DeeShawn Tucker (10).
K-M wasn’t exactly hot in the shooting department either at 32.7. But senior Gary Bailey stoked the offense when the Royals needed it in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of his game-high 16 points in the period. After Federal Way had closed a nine-point deficit to four to start the period, Bailey nailed a pair of three-pointers to help fuel a 15-6 run.
Mike Banks added 11 points, six rebounds and four steals for the Royals, who open bi-district play at home Tuesday against Evergreen of Vancouver (No. 2 out of the Greater St. Helen’s League). Federal Way also has a home game Tuesday and plays the loser of Saturday’s contest between No. 9 Mount Rainier and Beamer.