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Kentwood uses big second half to pull away from Union in 4A state title game

Conquerors clamp down on Cranston for 81-61 win

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter
Published: March 4, 2017, 11:42pm
7 Photos
Union's Keithen Shepard, left, dribbles up the court against the defense of Kentwood's Rayvaughn Bolton. Bolton led the Conquerors to a big second half as they pulled away from the Titans to win 81-61 and capture the Class 4A state championship Saturday in Tacoma.
Union's Keithen Shepard, left, dribbles up the court against the defense of Kentwood's Rayvaughn Bolton. Bolton led the Conquerors to a big second half as they pulled away from the Titans to win 81-61 and capture the Class 4A state championship Saturday in Tacoma. (Patrick Hagerty/For The Columbian) Photo Gallery

TACOMA — The Union boys basketball team made it to the final game of the final day of the season.

It just was not the finale the Titans wanted Saturday night in the Tacoma Dome.

Kentwood pulled away to beat Union 81-61 in the Class 4A state boys basketball championship game.

Rayvaughn Bolton scored 19 points and Darius Lubom added 18 to lead Kentwood in scoring, but it was the Conquerors defense that won this championship.

The Conquerors smothered Cameron Cranston with two, sometimes three defenders in the second half, ensuring Cranston could not do what he did in the first half — when he scored 20 points for the Titans.

It was a defensive showcase to slow down all the Titans, holding Union to seven points in the third quarter.

“We kind of went dry, and their pressure kind of got to us a bit,” Union coach Blake Conley said. “Their defense was amazing, and their offense was really good, too.”

“They were just denying me everywhere,” said Cranston, the tournament’s most valuable player who ended up with 22 points in the championship game. “Not much I could do.”

For a half, neither team could stop the other.

The second half was all Kentwood, though. That defense first, and then the offense, which never lost its momentum.

“They’re so dangerous with all five of their guys,” Conley said. “They just have so many different weapons.”

Tyler Combs, who scored 13 points, hit a 3-pointer for the Titans to tie the game at 42, the 10th tie of the game. From there, though, Kentwood would score 17 of the next 21 points to go up by 13 heading into the fourth quarter.

Just like Conley noted, it was everybody for Kentwood. Eli’sha Sheppard had seven of his 13 points, and three other Conquerors scored, in that run.

All five Kentwood starters shot 50 percent or better from the floor.

Koby Huerta, who finished with 16 points, hit a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter and a contest that was so close in the first half turned into a coronation for Kentwood in the final eight minutes.

“We came out and played real solid in the first half,” Cranston said. “Second half, they just went wild. They couldn’t be stopped. They were hitting every shot. We didn’t have an answer.”

In fact, the Titans shot 56 percent in the first half but were held to 28 percent in the second half.

The Conquerors shot 56 percent in the first half and then got better — going for 58 percent in the second half.

The Titans could not recover.

The first half saw seven lead changes and eight ties. And there was a scoring performance for the memories for Cranston, who was voted the tourney MVP by members of the media. He was 6 for 7 from the floor, with four 3-pointers, and had 20 points in the half.

The second quarter alone featured six lead changes and four ties. Zach Reznick had seven points in the period. Kai Gamble’s offensive rebound and put-back gave Union a 39-37 lead at the half.

Bolton had 13 of his points in the first half for Kentwood, hitting three 3-pointers.

A hectic pace opened the contest in the first quarter. Cranston made his first two shots to start his big night. Austin Lewis kept his aggressive approach that he showed throughout the tournament, attacking the rim for a layup on one end and drawing a charge on the other.

Then those two kept it up the rest of the quarter. Lewis got an offensive rebound and put-back basket, while Cranston finished the period with 10 points.

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Of course, the Conquerors had their moments, too, in a period that saw four ties. Bolton had two 3-pointers in the quarter.

This was Union’s third consecutive trip to the Tacoma Dome for the tournament — Cranston and Keithen Shepard played on all three teams — and the first championship appearance for this group. The second-place trophy gives Union three trophies in a row and a total of six in the program’s history. The 2010 Titans won the Class 3A state title.

UNION — Keithen Shepard 0, Houston Combs 3, Zach Reznick 9, Tyler Combs 13, Quinn Lamey 0, Austin Lewis 8, Jalen Brown 0, Kai Gamble 6, Cameron Cranston 22, Justin Ongley 0, Jason Franklin Jr. 0, Cole Susee 0. Totals 23-57 (8-21) 7-10 61.
KENTWOOD — Anjaylo Lloyd 2, Elijah Millon 0, Koby Huerta 16, Rayvaughn Bolton 19, D’angelo Minnis 3, Beau Roggenbach 7, Armann Gill 3, Ryan Wilds 0, Eli’sha Sheppard 13, Jahvonta Jones 0, Darius Lubom 18. Totals 26-46 (9-17) 20-26 81
Union    18    21    7    15—61
Kentwood    18    19    22    22—81

Columbian High School Sports Reporter