Highline stays in playoff hunt
By Gerardo Bolong
With playoff hopes on the line, the Highline boys basketball team found itself tied with young and inspired Tyee before gutting out a key win.
After freshman shooting guard Julius Casseus angled home a three-ball for Tyee, the score was all square at 48 as 41 seconds remained in the fourth quarter.
Six-foot, five-inch Riley Piper returned Highline to the lead on a drive down the lane. The Pirates defenses turned away an attempted Totem driving shot that led to a Hood lay up.
Twenty-nine seconds later Daniel Ayele scooped in a lay in from the baseline to bring Tyee within 52-50, but a three-point Totem three from the corner bounced high off the opposite rim and Hood drained two free throws as part of a 6-1 HHS surge to a 58-51 SPSL 2A North win at Tyee on Mon., Jan. 14.
HHS improved its league record to 4-6 in a battle with Evergreen (2-7) for the final playoff spot
"I challenged them at halftime," said Pirated head coach Edward Thompson. "They're fighting for the last playoff spot and the season is on the line, especially for the seniors. They just had to gut it out."
The Pirate press punished the Totems early for an 11-2 lead before Tyee's Ryan Ahmed ignited his team with a three-point goal in a 7-0 surge.
After HHS gained a 13-9 foothold, Daniel Ayele capped a five point Totem response for a 14-13 lead after one quarter.
Tied at 16-16, Ayele fueled a Totem rally on five consecutive points. Highline went cold from the field and the Tyee defense increased the pace as the offense spread the court for slashing drives and open three-balls on the way to a 23-16 lead that became 25-17. Gerald homed in a three-pointer for HHS that was countered by Ayele's midcourt three-point goal that beat the buzzer.
Highline opened up the second half with intensified full court defense to shock the Totems out of their patterns to tie the game at 30.
Malakai Carter drained a three-pointer for the Pirates before a Julius Casseus three-point bomb culminated a seven point Totem strafing run that regained the lead for Tyee at 37-33 with just more than two minutes left in the third quarter.
After missing several shots from beyond the three-point arc earlier in the game, Nikola Roso finally swished one in for the Pirates. Hood shot in a long range three-point goal at the buzzer to send Highline into a 39-37 clearance going into the fourth quarter.
The teams fought evenly until Roso downed a three-pointer for a 46-41 Pirate lead as 5:25 showed n the scoreboard clock. Sadio Taore retaliated on a basket for Tyee before the teams swapped baskets until Casseus dished off to Traore for a 48-45 score, setting the stage for the final confrontations.
Although the Totem league record dropped to 0-10, this game showed off the progress the team has made since the start of the season.
"This is another foundational portion," said Tyee head coach Rodney McCurry about his team that has only one senior and limited playing experience. "We're way more polished than we were at the start of the season and we're ahead of schedule...Everyone is holding each other accountable and they're buying in."
Hood was steady for HHS and finished with 25 points. Piper added nine points while Roso scored his eight points all in the second half.
For the Totems, Traore scored 11 fourth quarter points as part of his game total of 19. Ayele fired in 14 points in the furious first half on the way to 18 points.