As the Redmond boys basketball players chatted in the locker room following their big win over Issaquah, the Mustang coaches had something brewing.
They swung the door open and doused the elated players with bottles filled to the brim with water. It was a solid soaker as everyone jumped up and down and yelled at the tops of their lungs.
With the 64-55 victory on Tuesday night at Redmond High, the Mustangs clinched the 4A KingCo Crown Division with a 9-4 record. The locals (15-5 overall) will next face Skyline in the semifinals of the league tournament at 7 p.m. Friday at Redmond High. The championship game awaits at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Sammamish High. Redmond is already guaranteed one of the six league spots to the Wes-King District Tournament.
“Last game, senior night, just bring that energy. We wanted the No. 1 spot, so we just took it,” said senior forward Jahi Coleman, who hammered down a high-flying dunk to give the Mustangs a 46-32 advantage in the third quarter. After rattling the rim, he turned to the raucous Redmond student section and screamed while running up court.
“I just knew I was gonna do it. It felt good,” Coleman said with a smile.
Redmond began the game with a 7-0 run and led 31-23 at halftime following junior guard Jacob Miller’s aggressive drive to the hoop for a layin. Jacob’s brother Nathan, a junior guard, finished with 13 points and senior forward Aidan Rolfs amassed 19 points.
Senior forward Cameron Clum opened the scoring in the third quarter with a putback and later gave the Mustangs a 40-24 lead with a layin off a stylish no-look pass from Coleman.
“I think to be in our position that we’re in right now started in the offseason, and working so hard over the summer and the fall, to be ready when the season started instead of starting off slow,” Clum said. “We’ve been locked in since the start.”
Coleman said the team needs to stay healthy and keep practicing hard to make an impact in the postseason.
He feels the top attributes that the Mustangs bring to the hardwood are, “Just the selflessness on the court, moving the ball, making that extra pass, taking excellent shots.”
Notching a 3-1 record at the SoCal Christmas Classic in December against some top-notch teams set the Mustangs on a strong course to reap further KingCo success, Clum said.
“They really pressed a lot, so we got a lot calmer under pressure and found ways to execute more,” said Clum, adding that with the Mustangs’ great chemistry, “We just keep moving forward, which makes us a lot better as a team as a whole.”
On Tuesday, the program celebrated seniors Coleman, Rolfs, Clum, Alec Bovee and Nico Moore on the boys’ side and Sami Castanos, Whitney Thom and Avery Porcher for the girls team.
In the Redmond girls’ final game of the season, guard/forward Castanos tallied 13 points in the Mustangs’ 58-34 loss to Issaquah. Sophomore guard Willow Thom added seven, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Redmond kept things close early on with a trey from sophomore forward Rylie Bird and a trey from sophomore guard/forward Delaney Chenevert to give the Mustangs a 16-15 lead.
Other highlights included Castanos’ jumping one-touch pass along the far baseline to junior forward Maddie Spelman for two, and Porcher draining the final points of her Redmond career on a jump shot at the end.
Following the game, Castanos was a bit emotional when discussing her last time on the court for the Mustangs (1-12, 3-17).
“When I was playing, I was worried about the game, but when I was sitting down, I was just realizing it was my last game in high school and it was really sad,” she said. “I love basketball with all my heart and I’m gonna keep on playing as much as I can throughout college and throughout my life.”
She’s proud to be a part of the team, one which had great chemistry on and off the court.
“We would talk to each other in class, we would see each other in the hallways and smile and hug each other,” said Castanos, who played varsity ball for head coach Ashley Graham for three and a half years.
Graham taught Castanos about having a positive attitude and keeping her head up at all times. The coaches pushed the Mustangs hard and Castanos said she improved her game throughout her time with the team.
“I just loved every single moment of it,” she said.