Kevin Porter Jr. leads second-half rally for the Vikings, who make a game out of it against the Raiders, the No. 1 team in the nation.
Nathan Hale senior Michael Porter Jr. scored 44 points on Saturday night, and somehow it felt pretty … routine?
Porter, Hale’s 6-foot-10 McDonald’s All-American and a Washington signee, has so consistently thrilled this season — he’s scored 52, 51 and 46 points in games — that even some of the thrilling things he does feel kind of normal.
Porter led Hale to an 88-84 win against Rainier Beach in the Class 3A SeaKing District championship in front of a packed crowd at Bellevue College. Porter’s brilliance, however common by now, wasn’t lost on Brandon Roy, Hale’s coach and himself a former high-school star.
“The first time I saw him play, I said, ‘I’m going to cherish this,’ ” Roy said. “This may never happen again. I could coach for 25 years and I may never see a player as good as him ever again.”
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As Roy talked outside the locker room, Jamal Crawford, the Los Angeles Clippers guard and one of Seattle’s all-time great prep players, spoke to Rainier Beach’s team. Crawford starred at Beach, and he and another Beach alumnus in the NBA, Dejounte Murray, attended Saturday’s game during the NBA All-Star break.
“He’s special,” Crawford said of Porter. “Whenever you’re that tall and shoot like that, it’s special.”
Porter had one driving dunk in which he took off from a step or so inside the free-throw line. He hit another three-pointer falling away in the corner and led the fast break in transition.
“That’s stuff that’s beyond the high-school level,” Crawford said. “He’s beyond that. Watching him and his maturation process will be fun.”
Hale needed everything Porter had to hold off Beach. Hale led 46-31 at halftime, but Beach rallied behind Kevin Porter Jr., who scored 22 of his 31 points after halftime.
“Kevin was unbelievable,” Crawford said. “To me, those two guys are the two top guys in the state, and to see those guys battle like that and have a mutual respect for each other, I think it brings out the best in both.”
Beach senior Kahlil Shabazz tied the game at 69 with four minutes left, but Hale scored six straight points, including four from PJ Fuller. Beach never got closer than three after that.
“They usually throw that punch, and it knocks most teams out,” Beach coach Mike Bethea said. “But these guys here woke us up at halftime. I just loved the fact that they fought.”
But Michael Porter was just too difficult to stop.
“He’s the best high-school player I’ve ever seen,” Roy said. “If this is your first game, Michael looks like that every day. That’s the treat I get as a coach is to sit back and watch him play basketball.”
West Seattle claims girls crown
West Seattle’s girls basketball team couldn’t have started Saturday’s Class 3A SeaKing District championship game much better: Of the Wildcats’ eight first-quarter field goals, six were three-pointers.
West Seattle led by 14 after the first quarter and ultimately protected that lead late for a 58-50 win.
“It’s just a confidence boost to know we deserve to be here,” West Seattle coach Darnell Taylor said. “I was very proud of them to be able to hold on.”
Freshman Meghan Fiso led West Seattle with 15 points, while sophomore Jasmine Gayles added 12. Sophomore Jenna McPhee, meanwhile, hit three threes in the first quarter.
Mercer Island rallied to get within four with 1:40 left in the game on Anna Luce’s layup. But West Seattle scored the next four points to close out the win. Luce scored 38 points; no other Mercer Island player scored more than eight.