It all came down to the line Friday night for the Kentlake High girls basketball team.
And when it mattered most during a pivotal fourth quarter against South Puget Sound League North Division rival Auburn, the Falcons managed to deliver.
Kentlake connected on 10 of 11 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter — six straight by junior Morganne Comstock — en route to a 43-35 win over the Trojans.
Kentlake’s golden touch at the line during the fourth quarter was quite a turn around from earlier in the game. The Falcons entered the fourth having hit on just 3 of 15 from the line.
“We overcame a free-throw issue,” said Kentlake coach Scott Simmons. “We overcame a personal battle. We were very poor at the line against (Thomas Jefferson in a 39-30 loss earlier in the week). It absolutely killed us. And we were very poor shooting free throws to start this game.”
But when it mattered most, Comstock delivered.
The 6-foot-1 forward, who is among the North’s leading scorers at 14.1 points per game, would not be denied.
“It was very intense,” said Comstock, who finished with a game-high 18 points to go along with nine rebounds and six steals. “And they were trying to get in my head. I just didn’t let it get to me and made it count with scoring and not physical pushing.”
The win puts the Falcons (6-5 in league, 9-6) in the driver’s seat for the fifth-and-final playoff berth from the North. Auburn (4-8, 6-10) entered the night just one game behind the Falcons in the win column and with hopes of creating a two-way tie with Kentlake for that final berth.
But turnovers proved to be Auburn’s demise. Auburn, which won its previous two games, was forced into 34 turnovers.
“I didn’t think we played very well as a team on both ends of the court,” Auburn coach Ed Bender said. “I didn’t think we covered up well on defense and they didn’t make the extra pass on offense. And that’s what you need to do against the zone.”
Kentlake’s zone created considerable problems for the Trojans. It also helped slow down Auburn standout Heather Restrepo, who came into the night averaging 17.1 points per game over her last four contests.
The Falcons held Restrepo to 11 points.
“I just wasn’t in it, I guess,” said Restrepo, who did deliver on the glass, pulling down a team-high 12 rebounds. “I wasn’t working well with my team. I think as a team, if we were playing better, I would have scored more.”
Despite Restrepo’s off night, the Trojans remained very much in position for the win late into the game. Auburn took a 33-29 lead with 5:43 remaining on a Jennsyn Chaney layup.
The Falcons, however, finished with a flurry, outscoring the Trojans 14-2 the rest of the way. And 10 of those points came at the line.
“I give credit to my kids and their ability to stay focused,” Simmons said. “To turn it on in the fourth quarter, I am really proud of their character. It says a lot about their mental toughness and what they’re capable of doing.”
While Comstock proved clutch down the stretch, she did have plenty of help. Riley Butler came off the bench to score 7 points, grab 7 rebounds and block four shots. Cody Sisco added 12 points and five steals.
Auburn’s Jessica Morgan equaled Restrepo’s 11 points while Chaney chipped in eight to go along with 10 rebounds.
“It was a tough loss because I think we could have pulled through better as a team and (got) a win,” Restrepo said.