It wasn’t even a week ago that Kentwood High’s Jackson Huerta sank a halfcourt overtime buzzer-beater to lift the Conquerors to a one-point victory and advance them to the Class 4A West Central District boys’ basketball tournament.
Bellarmine Prep didn’t offer him the chance for another.
Kentwood hung with the Lions for three-plus quarters before the 10th-ranked Lions tightened their defense, recording 10 unanswered points to secure a 55-40 home victory.
The Lions (14-7) will take on sixth-ranked Federal Way in the WCD quarterfinals on Friday night.
Bellarmine Prep held Kentwood scoreless for more than four minutes with time winding down in the fourth quarter as it increased its six-point lead with 5 minutes, 4 seconds to go, up to 53-37 with 58 seconds left.
“Our experience really helped us down the stretch,” said Bellarmine Prep’s Gonzaga-bound Lucas Meikle, who finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. “They cut it to six and we finally just said, ‘Enough is enough.’”
The Lions entered the game riding a 13-game winning streak, but it was Kentwood with all the buzz following Huerta’s heroics in a 53-52 OT win against Emerald Ridge last Saturday. It saved the Conquerors season and gave them a ticket into the district tournament despite tying for sixth in the South Puget Sound League North Division at 8-8 to face a Lions program that just came off a 4A Narrows title.
But Kentwood appeared to take a little of the momentum into Bellarmine Prep, holding the lead through the first six minutes. It even saw another Huerta buzzer-beater – except this one came at the end of the first quarter.
Huerta didn’t get much outside of that. He was held to six points on 3-for-13 shooting against Bellarmine’s tough defense, which surrendered only 18 points in the first half.