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Renton High's latest version of a dream team | Boys basketball
They’ve been together four years, at Renton High School, these seniors whose basketball team, the mighty Indians, sits atop the Seamount League.
And that’s not to mention their standings in the polls as of the first of the week.
The Associated Press had the Indians ranked second in the state in the 2A poll, just behind Lynden High School. On Maxpreps.com, they were ranked third behind Lynden and Pullman and The Seattle Times ranked the Indians first in the state, ahead of Lynden and Pullman.
Renton is 17-0 for the season and 11-0 in the conference going into Friday night's game against seventh-place Highline at Renton.
“They love the game. And the chemistry is great,” says Coach Rick Comer of the seven seniors who start or often start a game – Lavelle Smith, Donovan Saario, Justin Pienh, James Weathington, Jonah Magat, Zack Lee and starting center, Jonathan Patterson.
“They are just enjoying the success they are having,” says their head coach.
Renton High boys have had success on the court before, going undefeated in 2006 and making an appearance at the state tournament. Last season’s varsity team didn’t break 500, but a successful JV team whose juniors are now those seniors was already showing what was on the horizon.
“It’s definitely one of the top teams we’ve ever had here, just based on their effort and chemistry,” Comer said of this season’s varsity team.
Comer has been head coach at Renton High since 1990. Rashaad Powell is his assistant head coach who runs the team through practice.
Comer credits his seniors and Powell with “great leadership.”
Powell doesn’t allow any complacency; preparation for the next game begins when the last one ends, says Comer.
“Coach Rashaad. Complacency? No,” says Comer. Powell tells the team, “You can’t be satisfied with yesterday’s success.”
Teammates work hard for each other, says Comer, and they won’t let each other fail.
“If failure does occur somewhere, they just pick them up and encourage instead of tearing them down and pointing a finger. That takes them a long ways,” he says.
Maybe the toughest game has been the one against the Lindbergh Eagles on Jan. 4, says Comer. The Indians were ahead by 16 points at one point, but in the fourth quarter, the Eagles had a one- or two-point lead. The Indians won, 56-51. The Indians weren’t “off track,” says Comer, it’s that Lindbergh has a good team, coming off a state appearance the year before.
“They almost got the entire thing done,” says Comer.
On defense the Indians play a combination of defenses, but they like to pressure the other team from baseline to baseline, says Comer.
“We have been known for being an uptempo team,” says Comer, but a team can’t maintain that pace an entire game.
Powell has the team playing a variety of offenses and defenses, Comer said.
On offense, the stats show a team that knows how to share the ball.
“The kids are selfless,” said Comer of the balanced scoring. “They don’t care who gets it. Basically, whoever is open gets opportunities.”
It’s not difficult to prepare against opposing teams where two or three players dominate the scoring, he said.
Many coaches will say they want to make the state tournament. Comer isn’t necessarily one of those.
“One of the goals we’ve had here on a consistent basis is just to become the best team we are capable of becoming,” he said. “And we think that winning will take care of itself.”
The goal is to improve as individuals and as a team every day,” he said.
“We can live with the results,” he said. “I think that’s the way, I know for a fact, that these guys are working from on that basis.”
For Coach Powell, who played for Renton High School in the 1990s and went on to play professionally, this season “has been an awesome experience.”
Like Comer, he sees a team blessed with great chemistry and a willingness to work hard – and the team is having a good time.
This is the first time he’s followed a Renton team through all four years of play.
“It’s been an awesome experience with all of them, seeing them grow up into the young men that they are,” he said.