Rainier Beach steals a title win over Eastside Catholic, 68-65
Seattle Times staff reporter
Dejounte Murray told himself he was going to get a steal. Rainier Beach needed him to get a steal. The Vikings were clinging to a one-point lead with less than 30 seconds left and staring at the very real possibility of their first loss.
A defeat would all but extinguish their chances at a mythical national title.
With Eastside Catholic inbounding the ball at midcourt, Murray’s man set a screen and faded into the backcourt. The pass came, but Murray, with a long wingspan, reached out and corralled the ball. The junior guard found an open Shaqquan Aaron under the hoop for a layup.
The basket was the difference-maker, as No. 1 Rainier Beach survived a scare from the No. 6 Crusaders and won the Metro League tournament with a 68-65 win Friday at Garfield High School.
“We tried our hardest to lose that game,” Vikings coach Mike Bethea said.
With 2:46 left in the game, Rainier Beach was on the wrong side of a 61-60 score after Matisse Thybulle hit a jumper for Eastside Catholic. It looked worse a possession later when Djuan Piper fouled out for the Vikings, sending Mandrell Worthy to the line. Worthy, who scored 22 points, hit a pair of free throws to give the Crusaders a 63-60 lead.
Rainier Beach (22-0) had an answer, though, as David Crisp nailed a three-pointer from the right wing with 1:42 left to tie the score. The Vikings got a stop on defense and Elijah Foster was fouled after collecting an offensive rebound. Foster hit one from the line to give Rainier Beach the lead, and Murray followed with his defensive play.
Aaron fouled out after he made the layup, though, and Eastside Catholic converted both free throws to move to 66-65. Beach senior Naim Ladd followed with two free throws and the defense forced a turnover to seal the win.
Murray scored 23 of his game-high 31 points in the first half, keeping Rainier Beach in the game as Eastside Catholic (18-4) came out hot. The Vikings led 38-34 at halftime.
“Man, they gave themselves a chance to win, but like we said, we found a way to get it done,” Bethea said
Rainier Beach gets the Metro’s No. 1 seed to the District 2 tourament and Eastside Catholic the No. 2 seed. Both teams get a first-round bye.