Both Renton girls and boys basketball teams are advancing to the 2023 round of 12 of the state basketball tournament held at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
It is the first time since 2013 the Renton girls have made it this far in the state tournament. It is also the first time since that 2013 season that both the girls and the boys made it to Yakima.
“It’s good to earn our spot, we earned it. I want to take what’s ours and our girls took it, they took their position to go to Yakima,“ said Assistant Coach Earl Cheatham.
The girls felt they shouldn’t have even played in this round of the state tournament being the 11 seed after winning their district tournament. The Renton girls had beaten the seventh-seeded White River two games prior and beat Sequim who was the eighth seed.
After Renton was informed they were in a win-or-go-home the girls took it upon themselves to get the job done.
“They told us, as coaches, not to worry about what our seed is… They told me coach we’ll get you there. Once my girls were that confident I didn’t have to worry about nothing,” Cheatham said.
The girls took down Port Angeles for the second time in 10 days, punching their ticket to the round of 12 with a 47-40 victory over the Roughriders.
“They knew that they had got done wrong and they said we are going to take it and earn our spot, and they did that tonight,” Cheatham said.
It was a complete win for the Redhawks; they led after every quarter and never trailed by more than one point the entirety of the game.
In the first half alone, Renton’s Nyachang Luok had seven rebounds and three steals before recording her first points before the half. “She’s very good. She knows how to play,” Coach Cheatham said.
At halftime Renton led the Roughriders 19-12, Aahmani Washington led the Redhawks with eight points in the half.
Renton senior Jesselle Victo didn’t have the half she wanted. Her first half was riddled with foul trouble, causing her to sit for the majority of the first half. But in the second she led her team, “I was really frustrated, but after I talked with Coach Cheatham he told me I needed to stay calm cause the team needed me,” she said.
Renton never separated themselves by double digits from Port Angeles but consistently led in the second half.
Luok and Victo ran the Renton offense in the second half. Luok had eight points and six rebounds while Victo had a strong finish to the game with nine points, two steals and two assists. “It’s my speed that makes the difference, they might be bigger than me. But I know I am faster than them,” Victo said about her skills on offense.
Renton’s girls left Auburn Mountainview with a huge win and a seat at the table and a possibility of a state title.
“We just have to keep being ourselves… To me, the other teams are the ones that have got to watch out, we’re coming and these young ladies know how to play,” Cheatham said.
The girls take on W.F. West on March 1. The last time Renton was in Yakima back in 2013, W.F. was the team that sent the Redhawks home. It is a decade removed but Renton could avenge those who came before them.
The Renton boys did not have the game they were expecting against the Lynden Lions following the girls game Friday, Feb. 24.
In every fashion Renton possibly had their worst game of the season. But Head Coach Rashaad Powell used it as a learning experience for his team. “I am not phased or bothered by it, but I think what we needed to experience are things we need to have to be able to grow as a team,” Powell said.
Renton lost by a score of 70-52, and at one point trailed by 27 points against the Lions.
“This is championship time, you have to play basketball at a high level. There’s no excuses you can’t run from anything. You have to have great habits and be ready to play at a high level,” Powell said.
The 18-point loss is the largest margin the Redhawks have ever had since the 2019-20 season. That season Renton lost to Lindbergh by a score of 68-47, it had been over three years since the Redhawks have lost a game by over 18 points.
“The mistakes we made tonight we’ve been making all season. The difference was this team we played was a higher level and made us pay for those mistakes… Now it’s all about understanding we actually have to do X,Y and Z that coach is saying for us to be more successful,” Powell said.
For additional state basketball coverage, visit rentonreporter.com.