Curtis beats Mount Sea and wins 4A state basketball title


Curtis Vikings lift the state championship trophy after defeating top-ranked Mount C, 52-49, in overtime in the WIAA 4A state basketball championship match for boys at Tacoma Doom in Tacoma, Washington, on Saturday, March 5, 2022.

Thais Paulsen had no doubt when he saw Mount C. guard Eli Spence trapped in half by teammates Devin Whitten and Gabe Martin. Spence, who held a double team and was in trouble, had to get rid of the ball, so he passed with one hand to a teammate.

But he had never seen Paulsen lurking in the background, ready to pounce. Curtis High School student pulled out his long left arm by stealing a pass in the middle of the court and turning a regular schedule at the other end, giving the Vikings a 51-49 lead 21 seconds before the end of extra time at Curtis High School 4A Class Basketball Championship among the boys at the Tacoma Dome on Saturday night.

Those points proved to be enough to get Curtis hooked on them, and the Vikings, who were number 2 in the state tournament, held on to beat the Wildcats, seeded with the best number – who came to Saturday’s championship game undefeated this season. – 52-49.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Paulsen, who scored 11 points in the victory. “I’ve been thinking about it ever since I watched the game of my brothers (Zack and Jace, who also played for Curtis). It’s an honor. “

About this theft: Curtis coach Tim Kelly harassed Polsen the whole game to jump passes in similar places.

“The whole game we even said on the wings, ‘Come out and get this.’ Go get it, go get it, go get it! ”Kelly said. “Suddenly he went and got it. It was so cool. “

It seemed that “Mount C” could win the game in regulation when senior forward Quinn Patterson, 6 feet and 7 meters tall, scored a corner three-pointer to bring “Mount C” ahead by three points 36 seconds before the end. But Curtis star sophomore Zoom Diallo wasn’t ready for it, scoring the bench in 25 seconds to reduce the lead to one. Curtis returned the ball, and Diallo attacked the rim again, making a foul for 1.8 seconds and getting a chance to win the game on the free throw line.

Diallo missed first. When all of Curtis ’students and fans held their breath, Diallo made a second by sending the game into overtime.

“It just shows no matter what – we are unavailable, fouls don’t go – we just told each other we got each other at the end of the day,” said Diallo, who scored 22 points. “You consider yourself responsible. In overtime, we just said to each other, “Hey, let’s keep pushing.” Let’s keep pushing. “

Curtis entered the game as an outsider, a role that appealed to Viking players.

“When we approached the state tournament, we were not favorites at all,” said Chinkwe Maxwell’s junior guard. “Everyone said,‘ Can Curtis beat the Wildcats? Can Curtis do it, or can Curtis do it? And now look at us. “

In the first minutes of the game it seemed that these predictions could come true. Mount Si took the lead, 8-0. But Curtis never hesitated.

“Everyone is good in the state championship,” Maxwell said. “They’re going to take pictures, but you just have to get back in the mood. Our business in this, since we were outsiders, was to believe. Just believe that we will be able to do it. “

It wasn’t that long ago when Curtis wasn’t even at the top of the 4A South Puget Sound League. Last spring, during a shortened Covid season only in the league, the Olympia team led by Jackson Grant defeated Curtis in a league championship game. Now the Vikings are state champions.

“After the defeat of Olympia, there was such a big increase,” Paulsen said. “Everyone on our team has been so persistent throughout this process and we have really played together. We won the state championship, few can say that. “

This is the first state championship in the program since 2013, when Curtis defeated Jackson in the championship with a score of 60-56. Curtis is the first Pierce boys team to win the state title after Foss won the Class 2A title in 2017, and the first to win the 4A after Curtis won his last title.

“We kept saying throughout the game that we should believe,” Polsen said. “I believe in the big word today. They had to win this game. We had more heart, we had more perseverance, and we won. ”

This story was originally published March 5, 2022 6:17 p.m.

John Manley covers high school sports for The News Tribune. Winner of the McClatchy President’s Award and a graduate of the University of Gonzaga, Manley has been covering the South Sound sports scene since 2013. Born and raised in Tacoma.

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