It may have taken three overtimes, but the Emerald Ridge Jaguars clinched their first appearance at the Class 4A West Central District III tournament in school history.
Senior Marcus Harris scored a game-high 36 points, including 17 after regulation, as Emerald Ridge (11-11 overall) beat the Auburn Riverside Ravens 87-80 on Feb. 11 in a loser-out game at Rogers High School in Puyallup.
The Jaguars led by 10 midway through the fourth quarter, but Auburn Riverside (11-9) mounted a comeback with full-court pressure and clutch 3-point shooting.
Ravens guard Derek White hit a difficult three on a one-on-one isolation play from the top of the key to tie the game at 67-67 with 1.5 seconds left in the first overtime.
Emerald Ridge head coach Pat Mullen said it was difficult for his team to deliver the knockout punch.
“Auburn Riverside didn’t go away,” he said. “We were up 10, and they just kept going and going. They hit some crazy tough shots. They lost their leading scorer (Drew Wallen fouled out with 2:51 left in the fourth quarter) but kept battling.”
The Jaguars’ play of the night came on their first possession of the third OT. Auburn Riverside left Emerald Ridge forward Jacob McCoy open in the corner on a inbound pass. McCoy nailed a three-pointer to give the Jaguars a 78-75 lead, and they didn’t relinquish it again.
“Three overtimes,” Harris said in the locker room afterward. “I don’t think I even got out of the game. I was real tired. I just had to keep pushing and not settle for jump shots. I just kept pushing it up the floor, and it worked for us.”
Mullen said his team has persevered down the stretch this season.
“We’ve basically had three loser-out games now in a row that we’ve won,” he said. “The kids have done a great job of refocusing. Marcus (Harris) has shown some great leadership.”
Harris doesn’t want his senior year to end any time soon.
“I want us to keep winning,” he said. “I don’t want us to lose.”
Emerald Ridge faced the Union Titans in a loser-out district playoff game on Feb. 18. As of press time, results of this game were unavailable.