Almost ten years have passed since Curtis High School boys ’basketball last brought home the district’s crown.
The Vikings have twice been in the championship since leading West Class Central District / Southwest Bureau in Class 4A in 2013, but have twice been overturned by the Federal Way in the main game.
This weekend, at their home gym, the top seeded “Vikings” will get another chance to reach the championship after an exciting 60-57 win over away “Union” in this season’s semi-final in the two-round semi-final on Thursday night at University Place.
It didn’t take long for Curtis, who has already won this season’s unbeaten 4A South Puget Sound League title, to lose this season in the 4A Championship and went from Kentwood in his quarter-final match last week to build an early lead before electric crowd.
Cinque Maxwell gave Curtis (21-3) the first seconds of the game, and after Union (17-5) responded with a quick basket, the Vikings continued to run for the next four minutes, giving them an advantage that reached as many as 18 points .
Devin Whitten scored the next seven points for the Vikings – including scoring two of four three-pointers with back-to-back possession – to reach the stretch that eventually gave Curtis a 25-7 lead of 2:16 in the first quarter.
“He played very well,” said Viking coach Tim Kelly about his sophomore guard. “He’s been playing like that lately. He also worked well at the other end of the floor.
“Very confident shooter. He has a green light. It’s nice when he goes like in the first quarter. “
In the first quarter, Curtis killed almost all possessions and also received more contributions from Maxwell, Zuma Dial, Thais Polsen and Trent Williams on the attacking side, while the Vikings limited the Union to the other end.
But in the second quarter, the Titans took the lead behind junior striker Jani Fassilis, who scored 10 of the top 22 points in a 16-6 series six minutes before the break.
Curtis still led 39-32 at the break, but Union was quick to erase it, playing for the first time in the first two minutes of the evening when Bryson Metz pulled up in the third quarter to score 5:18.
The Titans came out first in the next possession when Jamison Limbrick knocked down a three-pointer from the left corner and made the score 44-43.
During the first five minutes of the second half the lead changed four times before the two programs entered the fourth quarter with a 47-47 draw.
“We need a team effort,” Whitten said. “… They started coming back and we just got together as one team. Our coach told us to just be patient and do our thing and we did and we struggled with that. ”
Pauline opened the final quarter with a three-pointer to bring the Vikings back ahead, but Union responded with a pair of baskets of Fossilis and Limbric to regain the lead. The next possession was when Maxwell hit a short jumper, making the score 52-51 from 5:48 to the end when the Vikings came out ahead forever.
Diallo scored a three-pointer in Curtis ’next possession to give the Vikings a four-point cushion, and Whitten drowned even less than a minute later to help keep Union out of reach.
The Titans again reduced the lead to one possession after Limbrick’s last basket, which scored 18 points, from 2:04, but Paulsen responded with a delay when there was 1:36 left before the game’s last basket.
After a couple of turns and misses by each of the teams, Union gained possession of the ball in the jump 14.2 seconds before the end, trailing by three, but the steady defense of the “Vikings” forced the “Titans” to take a timeout from 1.6 to the end.
The final 3-point attempt at the last second on the pass in the goal failed, and the “Vikings” celebrated in the middle of the court.
“We talked to them – especially when we got to the fourth quarter – it would come down to defense, getting stops and rebounds, and I thought we worked pretty well with that,” Kelly said.
Whitten scored 16 points for the Vikings, in which five players reached double-digit numbers, including Maxwell, who added 13, and Paulsen, Diallo and Williams, who added 10 points each.
Curtis moves on to Tahoma (14-7) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at University Place for the two-round title. Bears upset Federal Way48-43, earlier Thursday ahead.