Kentwood hangs on for overtime win against Federal Way | Girls basketball

Kentwood held off Federal Way Friday afternoon at ShoWare Center in a West Central District playoff game for seeding into the state tournament, winning 56-54 after building up a double digit lead by half time.

The Conquerors appeared to have the game in hand up 32-18 at half time and pushing it to 35-22 early in the third quarter but by the time the fourth quarter started the Eagles had cut the lead to three, 39-36.

With 5:47 left in the game, first year Kentwood Coach Dean Montzingo called a timeout to regroup.

“We were trying to stop their momentum and talk about what to do on offense,” Montzingo said. “We were passing too fast and not paying as much attention as to what we needed to do on offense, so we talked about fixing that.”

Montzingo added that because of Federal Way’s penchant for shooting from behind the three point line, particularly by Darah Huertes-Vining who led all players in scoring with 20, it made it harder to get defensive rebounds so Kentwood could back on offense.

Junior Liz Mills said they didn’t make that many adjustments coming out of the timeout.

“We just decided to play harder and do what coach tells us,” Mills said.

From the 5:47 mark, the previously lopsided score quickly became a back and forth of turnovers and scoring, as the lead changed hands several times though by the end of regulation.

Kentwood had a 52-50 lead with 11 seconds left then Brittany Barrington tied it up from the free throw line. The Conquerors were unable to answer offensively sending the game into an extra session.

The back and forth tempo continued during overtime.

Sanda Milovic, the team’s lone senior, scored and Talia Walton answered with a bucket for Federal Way.

Kylie Huerta, Kentwood’s dynamic and diminutive point guard, fouled Dyesha Belhumeur who hit both ends of the one and one, putting Federal Way up 54-52.

Mills tied it up with just two minutes left in the overtime period and then Huerta put away the final bucket, giving Kentwood a 56-54 lead with 1:51 left. Huerta finished the game with 17 points and Mills had 11.

Federal Way had one last shot to tie the game after a scramble for the ball at half court turned into a jump ball with the possession arrow giving the Eagles the ball with 7.7 seconds left.

Kentwood’s tough zone defense kept Federal Way from getting any good looks. After the ball was poked out of bounds, Federal Way had 3.8 seconds to get off one last shot, but Courtney Johnson pulled down the rebound sealing the win.

The Conks earned the no. 3 seed out of the West Central District to the 4A state championship tournament at the Tacoma Dome next weekend.

This was an important win for Kentwood who had to bounce back after losing to Bellarmine Prep for the second time this season in a semi-final game Wednesday.

“It was tough … losing again but we gathered ourselves up tonight and put it all on the floor,” Mills said.

With the three seed under its belt, Kentwood has plenty of experience to rely on, and it’s something Mills is looking forward to and Montzingo is counting on.

“When you go to state, all the teams are good and you know all the girls,” Mills said. “I just like playing everyone, it’s so much fun.”

Montzingo said his juniors all have two years of state tournament experience plus having played five games at ShoWare center this season – between the Kent Shootout and the district tournament – can make the difference.

“That experience will really help,” he said.