The Renton Redhawk boys basketball team was sent home early from the 2023 state tournament in Yakima with a narrow loss to Tumwater 56-53 on Wednesday.
“It was a perfect storm, it was just one of those days where we make shots we normally make,” Head Coach Rashaad Powell said.
The last time the boys were in Yakima was back in 2019 when the team lost in the quarter-finals. This season, the Redhawks ended the year 23-3 but still not playing in the last game of the season.
The loss had a big impact on the locker room, Renton junior Ajayi Simmons wanted the best for his senior class. “It’s hard after a game like this, you think about what you could have done better,” he said.
Renton was coming off their worst loss in over two years in the regional round and Coach Powell said he was happy with his team’s quick memory into the game against Tumwater.
“They did great on turning the page, we had two really good practices and learned what we needed to get done,” Powell said.
Renton got out to an early lead in the first quarter on March 1, but Tumwater fought their way back taking a one-point lead at the quarter break 13-12.
“Early on we were solid and sound defensively doing the things we needed to do,” Powell said.
The Redhawks would stay right with the Thunderbirds and ended the half down two points, trailing 27-29. Renton’s De’Rai Taylor and Lake Guild both had five points in the quarter. Guild made the only Renton three-pointer of the entire game in that quarter.
For the entire game, Renton shot just one of 15 from beyond the arc. But the Thunderbirds also struggled from deep; they only shot two of 13.
In the second half, Renton tied the game at 31-31 early in the third quarter. Ajayi Simmons was a big part in the second half scoring seven points in the third quarter.
Tumwater led at the end of the third quarter 41-47, and increased that lead to begin the final quarter. With 5 minutes to go, the Redhawks trailed 51-41. The Redhawks proceeded to go on a 12-2 run and with 1:04 on the clock, the game was tied at 53-53.
“I’ve been saying all year we’re a resilient group,” Powell said.
Tumwater took the lead on a layup and foul to go up 56-53. With under 30 seconds left, the Redhawks would have two more chances to tie the game. And two three-point attempts from standout sophomore Dennis Johnson wouldn’t fall.
“The shots we normally make just didn’t fall today,” Powell said.
Renton’s two leading scorers Johnson and Simmons are coming back next season. The experience they gained playing in this atmosphere at this point in the season is something they said they can’t replace.
“There’s no substitute for experience,” Powell said. “So it’s about understanding what the stage entails, what it’s like and what it means to be here.”
“I’m taking this to heart,” Simmons said. “Seeing how my seniors were in the locker room. I don’t want that feeling, I want to go out with flowers.”