The Indians, Class 2A's No. 2 team, went back and forth with the Conquerors before using pressure to pull away late.
BELLEVUE — The time to test a team’s resolve is not in a blowout or when everything is clicking.
No, the best tests come when teams are challenged, when things aren’t going exactly as scripted. Renton, the second-ranked team in Class 2A, received such an examination in the final of Saturday’s 42nd annual Bellevue College Holiday Tournament against Class 4A Kentwood.
The Indians (11-0) found themselves in a one-possession game for much of the evening before finding all the answers in the fourth quarter for a 66-61 win. Fortitude, Renton coach Rick Comer said, was the biggest lesson learned.
“We talked that sometimes you have to take a punch and see how you react,” he said. “And we took a couple punches. Quite a few, actually. But you don’t learn a lot when you’re always ahead, so it’s good to test the character of your team.”
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Renton and Kentwood (6-4) traded small leads throughout the first three quarters. Neither led by more than four until Renton’s high-pressure defense sparked the Indians to a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.
The Indians pressed all game with some effectiveness, but in the deciding moments that pressure led to costly Kentwood mistakes.
“We just had some inopportune turnovers,” said Kentwood coach Blake Solomon, whose team had 21 turnovers. “We didn’t take care of the ball when we needed to. We didn’t get stops when we needed to. The guys fought all the way until the end, but turnovers ultimately got us.”
Renton led by eight with 1:30 left in the fourth quarter, but Kentwood stormed right back.
The Conquerors sliced Renton’s lead to two points on Jackson Huerta’s three-pointer with 10 seconds left. But guard Donavon Saario, one of Renton’s nine seniors, hit two free throws with eight seconds left to give Renton a four-point lead.
Saario led Renton with 14 points while Shykiel Milord had 12 off the bench. The win marked Renton’s fourth against a 4A team this season.
“We’re a pressure-offense, pressure-defense team and we’re an up-tempo pace all the time,” Comer said. “That helped us out tonight.”
Brenton Roggenbach led Kentwood with 14 points, including four three-pointers, while Huerta added 13, including 11 in the second half.
In the tournament’s third-place game, Inglemoor beat Bear Creek 79-45 behind 20 points from Colin Portugal.
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org