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BOYS BASKETBALL: Rawls, Gators stun defending state champions at the buzzer
It's the situation that every player who ever picks up a basketball has played over and over in their heads. Down by one, fourth quarter, clock ticking down and the ball in your hands. Decatur High School senior guard Markus Rawls got to actually live out the dream Friday night and oh, how sweet it was.
Rawls connected on a 17-foot jumper from just behind the free-throw line with 4 seconds on the clock Friday night in front of a raucous crowd inside Decatur's gym to sink the defending Class 3A state champion Lakes Lancers, 55-54.
The win ends the Lancers' two-year winning streak in the South Puget Sound League 3A Division and gives the Gators the outright lead in the six-team division with a perfect 4-0 league record. The loss drops Lakes to 3-1 in league play and 6-5 overall.
"Coach just said to spread the floor and if they collapse, then kick it out to a shooter," Rawls said. "I would have done that if they had collapsed. I'm not selfish."
But Rawls didn't have to kick the ball out to a shooter because the senior point guard dribbled right into the teeth of the Lakes defense and put up the jump shot that hit the rim and took a Gator bounce right through the net to give Decatur the early advantage in the South Puget Sound League 3A Division.
"That's just how we drew it up," said longtime Decatur head coach Kevin Olson with a smile. "In the huddle, I told him to attack the press. It was his game and he was going to make it happen. Markus was carrying us all night and it was his game to win and he did."
Rawls carried the Gators (10-4 overall) down the stretch Friday night. After trailing for most of the game, Rawls connected on a pretty 3-point play iwth 4:46 left in the fourth quarter to give Decatur a 45-44 lead. From that point on, Rawls tallied 11 of the Gators' final 14 points of the ball game. Rawls finished with career-high 27 points on the game.
"It was definitely a much-needed win," Rawls said. "It was definitely some redemption for us after they beat us on our home court last year."
The only points Rawls didn't score during the fourth-quarter blitz came on a huge 3-pointer from junior Abraham Ferrell-Logan with 36 seconds left after Lakes took the lead back, 52-51, on a layup. The Ferrell-Logan three put Decatur up 54-52.
But the Lancers' Phillip Winston came right back and knocked down a 3-pointer of his own with 24 seconds left to put Lakes back on top, 55-54, setting the stage for Rawls' heroics.
Decatur senior Dom Hunter finished with 14 points and Ferrell-Logan chipped in 11. Lakes was led by 14 points from Winston and Andrew Holloway. The Lancers' 6-foot-9 Zach Banner finished with just seven points. It was unclear whether or not Banner would be at Friday night's game. The football All-American cancelled a recruiting visit that was previously scheduled to the University of Southern California.
"I'm actually glad (Banner) was here," said Olson. "I wanted to beat them when they were at full strength."
The Gators have won seven-straight games, including five by double digits, and are rolling since opening the season with a 3-4 record. But the early-season struggles are a little deceiving. Decatur played an ultra-tough non-league schedule to prep for the SPSL 3A season.
"I think that has actually helped us," Rawls said. "We now know that we can't take plays off and have to keep up the intensity."
In other action:
Federal Way — The Eagles (7-4 overall, 7-1 SPSL South) picked up an important SPSL South victory Friday over Puyallup, but were beaten up, 71-43, Monday by the fifth-ranked Seattle Prep at the King Holiday Hoopfest at Hec Edmundson Pavilion in Seattle.
The 63-49 win over Puyallup kept Federal Way atop the SPSL South. The Eagles started the game on a 26-2 run during the first quarter, but the Vikings came back to tighten the game to 31-24 at halftime.
Deonte Anderson led four in double figures with 18 points. DeeShawn Tucker finished with 16, D'Londo Tucker had 11 and Malik Montoya chipped in 10.
Against Seattle Prep, the Eagles were never in the game. The Panthers jumped out to a 15-5 lead after the first quarter and led 41-16 at halftime. Federal Way was led by 11 points from Brayon Blake and 10 from DeeShawn Tucker.
Beamer — The Titans (9-4 overall, 8-2 SPSL South) remained one game back of Federal Way in the SPSL South with a hard-fought 57-56 win over Bethel Friday at home. Beamer's Luscious Brown tallied the game-winner and Thomas Rhodes led the Titans with 19 points.
Bethel led 11-2 after the first quarter and 27-24 at half.
Jefferson — The Raiders (5-9 overall, 3-8 SPSL North) dropped a pair of SPSL North games to Kent-Meridian Friday, 73-64, and Kentwood Monday, 66-39.
Against Kent-Meridian, the Raiders couldn't stop Michael Banks, who finished with 26 points. Jefferson was led by 18 points from Daryon James and 17 from Daniel Park.
Jefferson took on Kentwood Monday at the Showare Center in Kent at the Valley Medical Showcase and never got on track, especially in the second half. The Conks outscored TJ, 43-21, in the third and fourth quarters.
The Raiders had nobody score in double figures and were led by eight points from Joshua Duckworth.