Renton High School hoops split the double header against Sammamish High School on Friday, Jan. 6 inside the Redhawk gymnasium. The girls fell to Sammamish by a score of 40-48, and the boys came out victorious by a score of 62-59.
For boys Head Coach Rashaad Powell there is a memory and a goal in mind for this season.
“Ultimately I hope we are playing on the last day of the season on March 4,” Powell said. “When we lost to them (Sammamish) last year, that’s been the only thing on my mind since then.”
Both girls teams had identical records, the Renton boys side came in undefeated overall and Sammamish entered with two losses outside of league play. On top of those records, the teams were also tied for first place in the KingCo 2A standings going into Friday night’s games.
The boys had one of their greatest challenges of the season so far; Not only did they face the best team in the league record wise, but also it was Renton’s first game since Dec. 22, 2022.
For a moment early in the first quarter, Sammamish enjoyed a 4-14 lead. The first quarter ended with Renton trailing 10-14.
It got even worse for the Redhawks as Sammamish continued to give them problems going up 15 points at halftime. Beginning the second half, the lead even extended to a 17-point deficit.
There were 11 total players who registered playing time in the win for Renton — the entire varsity roster.
“Our team has the heart of a champion,” said Powell.
The first lead Renton ever had was in the fourth quarter with 1:03 left in the game. The comeback was led by sophomores Dennis Johnson and Jordan Agosto who combined for a total of more than 30 points in the second half alone. In the first half, the two combined for a total of four points. Renton junior Ajayi Simmons also finished the game with 10 points.
Late in the game, Agosto was fouled taking a three, and was awarded three free throws. With the score 56-59, Renton was still behind. Agosto missed all three free throws, a heartbreaking moment for the Redhawks’ point guard.
But for coach Powell, it was about moving on and not dwelling on the negatives. He still has full confidence in his playmaker and the message was simple:
“Keep your head up … Keep playing. You’re going to make mistakes, it is part of the game,” Powell said. “Find some other way to make it up, but I am not thinking about that last play. Let’s learn from it and move on.”
It was the largest comeback of the season for Renton, for the team to put in that effort. Powell said he was incredibly proud.
“There were several times where we could have quit or given up,” he said. “I was extremely proud of our resilience.”
The girls game was tightly contested from start to finish. It was a defensive slugfest in the first half, Sammamish struggled to score early; the first Samammish points were with 2 minutes left in the first.
“You have to take the positives, and look at what went well,” said Head Coach Tim White after the tough loss.
The scoring was dead even during the first two quarters; after the first, it was 8-8 and at half, it was 19-19.
Entering the fourth, Renton trailed 32-31. The Redhawks were down 31-38 in the middle of the quarter, but a lay up and free-throw made, technical foul free-throw and a three-pointer tied the game.
The leading scorer for Renton’s girls was senior Kimara Crocket who finished with 14. Renton junior Nyachang Luok had four points and three blocks on the night.
It’s a team that White says he thinks has a good chance to make a run in the playoffs if everything goes right.
“This is a group with a high basketball IQ,” he said. “Some of the starters have played together since the fourth grade.”
There is no lost confidence with the group either, he added. “I’m learning from this, Coach Cheatham is learning from this. We’ll rebound and we’ll make the adjustments needed,” Powell said.
These two schools are far and way the best two teams in the at the 2A level inside the KingCo league. They are destined to meet again on Jan. 27 this time at Sammamish.
But before then, the Redhawks take on Lindbergh on Jan 12.