The Renton Redhawks boys basketball team continued an undefeated season (8-0) with a win over West Valley from Yakima on Dec. 22.
Renton toppled the Rams by a score of 66-56. It is the best start to the season for the Redhawks since 2017-18 when they started 9-1 en route to an Elite 8 finish at state that season.
“We are preparing for district playoffs, league playoffs and hopefully the state tournament,” said Rashaad Powell, Renton head coach.
Leading the scoring was sophomore Dennis Johnson. The lefty had a game high of 22 points leading all scorers, the next highest scorer with 19 points was the 6-foot-7 junior Ajayi Simmons.
Renton had its first real challenge this season, Powell said. “We have to understand that there is going to be adversity,” he said. “When that happens, we have to balance that out and still execute.”
The Redhawks started off flat, so much so by the end of the first quarter, the team had only managed to score 11 points. They trailed the Rams 11-15 at the end of the first quarter.
“It’s a dangerous habit …We just gotta come out and play better to start,” said Powell.
Renton trailed for the entirety of the first half, and entered half time down 26-32.
“It was a gut check … It was an onus on the student athletes to come and play,” Powell said. “West Valley came out and played extremely hard, and competed. We didn’t do those things in the first half.”
It wasn’t until the 3:50 mark in the third quarter where Renton led for the first time in the game. It was a two-point layup edging out the Rams 38-37.
In the third quarter, the intensity rose incredibly, an aggressive flagrant foul on Johnson was called and gave the edge to the Redhawks. It seemed West Valley was playing out of their element, which Renton did with aggressive defense and patient, collected offense.
Renton ended up 49-43 at the end of the third. The change came in the rebounding and steal categories. The Redhawks were led by Simmons who had 12 of the team’s 23 rebounds. Renton also had 13 steals on the afternoon, Johnson had three. The fourth quarter was where Renton separated and outplayed West Valley.
“I was happy with the way we responded,” Powell said. “I was proud of my guys in the second half.”
Renton faces Tyee out of the break on Jan. 3. But the biggest test is Sammamish, the team who eliminated them from state competition, coming to town Friday, Jan. 6.