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Curtis handles Richland, takes path directly to Class 4A boys basketball quarterfinals

Defending state champions use 16-0 run to start second half and coast to 64-55 regional-round triumph at Tacoma Community College

TACOMA - The Curtis boys succeeded in another mission Friday night in their quest to defending their Class 4A basketball title.

They earned a first-day bye.

Led by Devin Whtten's scorching perimeter shooting and timely defense, the Vikings turned away Mid-Columbia Conference champion Richland, 64-55, in a regional-round game Friday night at Tacoma Community College.

Whitten drilled six 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 20 points. Zoom Diallo added 19 points as Curtis used a 16-0 run to start the second half to blow open a tight game.

"There were times where I thought we looked really good, but we certainly didn't finish well," Vikings coach Tim Kelly said. "We just got lackadaisical ... settling for shots."

Whiiten sank four of those long-range shots in the first 11:23 as Curtis built a 26-14 lead.

But the Bombers tallied 10 unanswered points over the final 41/2 minutes of the first half to get close.

"When they came back, we knew we had to get under control, come back together and focus," Whitten said. "And we did."

Sophomore Xavier Ahrens had one of the best quarters of his career with the Vikings right after halftime. He had four steals and three baskets, including a corner 3-pointer that gave the Vikings a 39-24 lead at the 3:35 mark.

"'X' was awesome in that third quarter," Kelly said.

By the end of the third quarter, Curtis was well in control - 52-30.

And now the Vikings will wait to see who their quarterfinal opponent will be Thursday - Camas or Tahoma.

"For us, we play hard," Kelly said. "So now having to do it three days (to possibly win 4A title) and not four is good."