No. 10 Emerald Ridge spent three and a half quarters against No. 6 Curtis playing like it was worthy of sharing the top seed in the South Puget Sound League South Division standings.
But then Curtis showed why it has spent four of the past season there and the Jaguars are still searching for their first postseason appearance in school history.
The Vikings (13-1; 9-1 4A SPSL) wore Emerald Ridge down with suffocating defense as they turned a one-point lead with four and a half minutes left into a 62-49 victory Saturday night to retain sole possession in the league standings and push their winning streak to 10 games.
Curtis led 49-48 with 4:31 in the fourth quarter in a game that was tight throughout. But it was all Vikings from there, ending the game on a 13-1 run with Emerald Ridge going 0-for-9 from the field and worn out.
“That’s something we talk about all the time,” Curtis coach Tim Kelly said of his team’s ability to tire Emerald Ridge in the final quarter. “It’s not going to happen in the first or second quarter, but tonight it was pretty clear in the last four minutes our defensive pressure really showed up.
“It was nice to be able to tell our team at the end ‘See, it does work.’”
Curtis’ Isom Brown was held scoreless in the first half, but scored seven of his nine points in the fourth quarter when he outscored the entire Emerald Ridge team 7-5.
The Jaguars (11-3; 7-2) had a difficult time running their offensive sets and getting looks inside like they had throughout the game with Curtis’ tight defense seeming like it got tighter as the game went on — something that had 6-foot-8 post Jeremy Harris in awe.
“Their defensive pressure was like nothing we have never seen before,” said Harris, who led Emerald Ridge with 14 points and seven rebounds. “(No. 2) Federal Way had defensive pressure, but they didn’t have it as perfect as (Curtis) did. Even when we didn’t have the ball they were still getting in our face.”
The Jaguars led by as much as seven points when came out of halftime with three straight buckets, including an and-one from Harris to lead 36-29.
Emerald Ridge held the lead through much of the third quarter and looked on its way to forcing a three-way tie atop the 4A SPSL standings with Curtis and Federal Way — while extending its win streak to nine games.
But the Vikings took back the lead when Dominique Jordan scored and Dom Robinson got a quick steal and scored through contact with just 2.2 seconds left in the third quarter as Curtis took a 45-44 lead.
The Vikings’ defense took over after that.