Puyallup High School sophomore guard Jaden Vollmen stepped to the free-throw line Thursday night with a berth to the West Central District playoffs hanging in the balance.
Vollmen, who finished with a game-high 24 points, sank back-to-back free throws to give Puyallup a three-point lead against the rival Rogers Rams, and the Vikings survived three Rogers field-goal attempts in the final 20 seconds to win, 55-52, at Puyallup High School.
Puyallup (8-8 league) clinched the No. 4 seed from the SPSL’s South Division to the West Central District tournament.
The Rams missed two 3-pointers, including one from close to half-court that nearly banked it as time expired.
The majority of Vollmen’s buckets came on drives to the basket.
“Jaden was great tonight,” Puyallup head coach Scott Campbell said. “I thought he played with a lot of poise. He has been so steady for us all year. He got to the basket, made plays and did a great job of handling the ball.
“Jaden is a winner,” Campbell added. “He just wants to do whatever he needs to do to help the team win. I love that kid.”
Puyallup built an 18-5 lead in the first five minutes, but Rogers didn’t go away quietly.
Rams senior center Zaequan Satterthwaite, who finished with a team-high 19 points, brought his team back with low-post moves and rebounding in the paint.
Rogers outscored Puyallup 40-37 in the final three quarters but couldn’t overcome what transpired early on.
“We played as hard as we could,” Satterthwaite said following the final game of his high school career. “We knew we were down. We just battled back to the best of our abilities and showed a lot of heart. We just couldn’t pull it off.”
Campbell said Satterthwaite was a force for Rogers.
“I think he is one of the best post players in the league,” the Puyallup coach said. “He’s really good with his back to the basket. We kept trying to switch up our defense and give him some different looks. They did a good job of getting it to him. He also is a really good rebounder. He’s tough to handle. I’m glad we don’t have to play against him anymore.”
Campbell said watching his youthful squad come through is special. The Vikings have three juniors and five sophomores.
“I think our kids felt a little bit of the pressure of what was riding on this game tonight,” he said. “We figured out a way to get it done.
“It was a team win. What is really special about this team is how they’ve grown into their roles. They are really comfortable in contributing in that way.”