Updated Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 01:33 AM
When the horn sounded, Seattle Prep students flooded out of the stands and onto the court, a celebratory gesture usually only saved for the biggest moments.
And this, even early in the season, qualified as a big moment.
Sixth-ranked Seattle Prep erased a 14-point second-half deficit to knock off No. 1 Rainier Beach 59-57 Friday night at Prep in a rematch of last year's Class 3A state championship game.
"There was just a fire in me from last year's loss in the state championship," said Seattle Prep guard D.J. Fenner, who scored 28 points. "There was just that fight in us. That home-court advantage was huge."
Even Rainier Beach fans tipped their caps to the 6-foot-6 Fenner after the game as he made his way from the locker room back to the gym for a TV interview.
"You gotta give credit where credit is due," one Beach fan said.
Against a Rainier Beach team that had the size and quickness to harass him in waves on defense, Fenner had 16 points in the fourth quarter for the Panthers (6-0 overall, 5-0 Metro League).
He made six of 10 shots in the final quarter, including four three-pointers. To cap it off, he blocked Rainier Beach guard Marquis Davis' driving layup attempt in the final seconds.
"They were real big moments," Seattle Prep coach Mike Kelly said. "And you expect kids to make big moments. ... D.J.'s easy to see. But we have other kids making key plays at other moments. And that's what's helping D.J."
Fenner had help, particularly from junior guard Laurence Hicks, who scored 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter.
"We all came together," Fenner said.
Beach (3-1, 3-1), ranked fifth in the country by MaxPreps, had yet to be tested this season. The Vikings had steamrolled opponents with a rotation that went as many as 12 players deep.
Beach led by double digits in the third quarter before the momentum shifted in Prep's favor behind Fenner and Hicks.
The Vikings, who were led by the 10 points of Davis, had 21 turnovers.
"They made plays down the stretch, and we didn't," Rainier Beach assistant coach Dave King said. "That's really the bottom line. And my hat goes off to them because they played harder. Is this the end of the world? No. We've just got to regroup."
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or email@example.com
DEAN RUTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES
D.J. Fenner hit four threes in the fourth quarter.