Senior Julius Graham conducts the Royals offense. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Senior Julius Graham conducts the Royals offense. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Hoops: Kent-Meridian boys win OT thriller over Auburn Riverside

After dropping two games to start the season, the Royals have now won two straight.

The Kent-Meridian boys basketball team outlasted the Auburn Riverside Ravens in overtime 68-67 in a home game on Dec. 11.

Overtime wins just mean a little bit more to an inexperienced squad that Kent-Meridian is rolling with.

“They absolutely mean more, and you build on it... It was a great game. Hats off to Auburn Riverside,” Head Coach Marcus Graham said. “It’s something you want to build on, especially as a young group. It’s about understanding the situation. First league game, it was a statement for us to pull that out by one point. That was huge.”

After an 0-2 start, the Royals have turned it around and won two straight over Lindbergh and now the Ravens. Since joining the NPSL, the Royals have dominated the Ravens and have a four-game winning streak over Auburn Riverside.

“I think it was nerves (for the first two games). We have nine guys who have never played varsity basketball before. It is understanding that it is a long season,” Graham said.

With that much inexperience, Graham has had to change his coaching style to help acclimate players who haven’t competed at this level.

“I’ve never had to sit down and go over X’s and O’s and teach every little thing. This is my first year I have had to break it down to the basics and tell the guys, ‘If you want to be successful you’ve got to do X, Y and Z.’ They’re learning. They’re sponges and want to get better,” he said.

Royals Joel Remos with a finger-roll layup against Auburn Riverside. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Royals Joel Remos with a finger-roll layup against Auburn Riverside. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Kent-Meridian jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead, even leading 11-2 midway through the first quarter, but allowed Auburn Riverside to get back in the game — and the two sides were knotted at 15-15 at the conclusion of the first quarter.

“We definitely have to keep our foot on the gas. When we’re up we lack a little, but we just have to keep going,” said senior captain Joel Remos.

The Royals had a lead at the end of the first three quarters, thanks to good play from the bench. Players coming off the bench had nine points in the second quarter while starters had just five.

Defensively, the Royals had a breakdown in the fourth quarter. Kent-Meridian held Auburn Riverside to just 11 points in the second and third quarters. But in the fourth, the Ravens scored 21 points to tie the game.

If it wasn’t for Graham’s nephew Julius Graham, Kent-Meridian may have lost this game with that fourth quarter collapse. Graham sprinted to the basket for four made field goals in the fourth quarter, paired with two free throws, which made him the highest scorer in that fourth quarter.

“Our two captains Julius and Joel held it down,” Graham said.

The biggest of Graham’s layups was in the fourth quarter with 21 seconds left when he stole the ball from Riverside’s Freddie Boles and layed it in the basket to put Kent-Meridian up by three. Boles then made the game-tying three-pointer with four seconds left. If Graham hadn’t made that play, the Ravens might have stolen the game away from the Royals.

Boles then almost won the game on his own, but was beaten by the horn as the two sides went to overtime. As anyone can imagine, the Royals’ emotions were all over the place.

“When they made that I was just like ‘Wow.’ But we came here to play. We’re not losing on our home court. This is our home court and we’re going to show them what we’re made of,” Julius Graham said.

Junior Christian Mortimer dribbles the ball up the floor. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Junior Christian Mortimer dribbles the ball up the floor. Ben Ray / The Reporter

In overtime, the game-sealing points came from the free-throw line. The line has caused the Royals trouble this season so far. But in the win over Lindbergh and this one over the Ravens, staying calm under pressure proved to pay dividends for Coach Graham’s squad.

“This is two games in a row where free throws have won games,” Graham said.

“We’ve definitely been putting it work in practice (on free throws). It was a rough night for shooting, but when it came down to it, my man Joel knocked ‘em down,” Julius Graham said.

Coming into this season, the Royals lost three starters out of the lineup, and a large portion of production left with those three players. But up to this point, the Royals’ Remos and Graham are doing their best to fill those shoes.

“I forced my nephew and Joel into that leadership role...This group is buying in to what I am trying to do. They’re sponges, I’m all in for that,” Graham said.

“We just have to be leaders on the court. A lot of these guys are from JV so we just have to encourage them all the time,” Remos said.

Kent-Meridian takes on a tough Todd Beamer High School on the road Dec. 14.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentnews.us.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://kentnews.us/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Sports

Photos by Ben Ray / The Reporter
Jaylen Petty drives against Lincoln inside the Tacoma Dome.
Two-time NPSL MVP to leave Auburn High School for Rainier Beach

Jaylen Petty will play his last high school season as a Viking in Seattle.

Skylar Diggins-Smith conducts the offense against the Sparks. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Storm pour it on in the fourth, wash out Sparks

Seattle used a huge 10-0 run late in the fourth to take control over Los Angeles.

Federal Way Memorial Field. Photo provided by Bruce Honda
Federal Way Memorial Field to host high school boys soccer tournaments

Class 2A, 1A competitions to move to Federal Way from Renton for 2025 to 2028

Kentwood and Kentridge players go at it for possession. Ben Ray / The Reporter
NPSL All-League Soccer Teams: Kentwood's Logan Hasting is POTY

Other Kent School District athletes make the list.

Photo provided by Rodney McCurry.
Seattle Majestics play in postseason

Seattles women’s tackle football team goes to Las Vegas to open up the playoffs.

2024 Kent News Athletes of the Year are Ella Wick and Ethan Loghry. Pictured left to right: Kent News sports writer Ben Ray, Ella Wick, Ethan Loghry, and Brian Smith, Kent School District Director of Athletics and Activities. Photo provided by ROBBY MULLIKIN
Kent School District and Kent News's 2024 Athletes of the Year

Kentlake’s Ethan Loghry and Ella Wick take home top awards.

Hazen’s Illia Biezak leaps over the bar. Ben Ray / The Reporter
State track and field: Liberty boys, Kent-Meridian girls place inside top four in 3A

Cassie Atkins (FW) continued to dominate, has now won five titles in three years.

Brock England. COURTESY PHOTO, Canadian Sport School Hockey League
Kent-based Thunderbirds load up on Western Hockey League draft picks

Eleven players taken in Prospects Draft; two in U.S. Priority Draft, both from Dallas team

T20 World Cup trophy waits for fans to take photos. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Seattle Orcas, ‘America's Favorite Cricket Team,' builds local support

Event held at Bellevue Downtown Park can be catalyst for the world’s second most popular sport.

Ethan Loghry on the bump pitched a gem for the Falcons. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentlake baseball stays alive with a walk-off win

Falcons move on to winner-to-state game.

Keilor Cacho Garcia takes on a Stadium defender. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Royals soccer sent home in whirlwind of a second half

Kent-Meridian loses to Stadium 3-1, allowed three goals in six minutes in second half.

Quay Miller taking a shot during warmups in Canada. Photo provided by Seattle Storm.
Kentridge's Quay Miller fights for spot with Storm

Miller wrapped up her college career in March and now sets her sights on the professional level.