Tacoma Community College looked to be pulling away from Centralia several times in the second half, only to see the Trailblazers charge right back. It wasn’t until Terrell Lewis banked in a jumper, and was fouled, with 50 seconds remaining in the game that the Titans got the cushion they finally needed. Lewis – who scored a game-high 20 points – sank the free throw to create a four-point lead, and the Titans hung on for a 74-68 win over the Trailblazers in their NWAACC West Division opener at home on Jan. 2.
“My shot was not falling,” said Lewis, who finished 6-for-18 from the floor in the game. “I knew I had to get to the rim. I didn’t think they were going to give me the contact, but they gave me the contact, I made the shot (and) made the free throw.”
Marciano Rogers had cut the lead to 67-66 with a jumper for Centralia with 1:20 remaining before Lewis – who had missed his previous six shots – made his gutsy drive toward the rim. Marquis Blackwell – who scored 15 points and added 11 rebounds for the Titans – and Jaqua Morrow hit two free throws apiece in the final 25 seconds to salt away the win.
Centralia was connecting from deep early in the game, as Zach Carras hit back-to-back three-pointers to give the Trailblazers a 25-15 lead with 11:33 to go until halftime. Colin Malone made it 30-19 with a three-pointer less than a minute later.
“The first half we had a lot of letdowns,” Lewis said. “It’s all on defense for us. That’s what sets the tempo for our team.”
The Titans began to buckle down defensively, and pulled within 30-27 on back-to-back three-pointers by Lewis and David Gethers. Anthony Harper – who finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds for TCC – regained a 31-30 lead with a jumper with 5:23 until the break.
Lewis nailed two threes early in the second half to make it 42-35, but Carras – who scored a team-high 19 points on 5-for-7 shooting from three-point range – kept the Trailblazers close. Lewis’ nice dish to Tony Chynoweth for a layup created a 59-51 lead with 10:05 remaining, but Marced Farley cut it to 63-62 with a steal and three-point play three minutes later.
Bellarmine Prep grad Isaiah Flynn finished with eight points, six rebounds and four assists for TCC, while Chynoweth tallied eight points and Gethers added seven points.
Lewis again tallied a game-high 20 points two days later, but the Titans fell 64-60 at Grays Harbor to drop to 1-1 in division play. They host South Puget Sound on Jan. 11 at 5 p.m. and travel to Clark on Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. and to Green River on Jan. 15 at 8 p.m.
LADY TITANS’ OFFENSE STRUGGLES IN LOSS
The Tacoma Community College women’s basketball team couldn’t shake its recent offensive struggles against Centralia. The Lady Titans became ineffective late in the first half and early in the second period, scoring 10 points over a 20-minute span and committing 25 turnovers to help give the Trailblazers a 53-43 win on Jan. 2.
“They’re a very well-coached, disciplined team,” said first-year TCC head coach Dan Kriley of Centralia, who won the NWAACC West Division last year. “That’s what I expected out of conference play. We’ve had trouble scoring all year long. We just don’t have enough ladies that, if we need a bucket, we can go get it.”
Alexus Grant – the only TCC player to score in double figures with a team-high 12 points – put the Titans up 15-8 midway through the first half with two three-pointers in a span of a minute. But TCC then watched Centralia go on a 17-4 run the rest of the half, as guard Leah Davis hit two three-pointers during the stretch. The Trailblazers’ Julia Myers – who finished with a game-high 14 points off the bench – would give Centralia the lead for good with a jumper with 4:12 left in the first half to make it 19-17.
“We’re not getting enough easy buckets, and then when we have opportunities to get easy buckets we’re making bad decisions,” Kriley said. “We’ve got to make our own breaks, and that just comes through decision making.”
The Titans continued the struggles early in the second period, committing five turnovers in the first five minutes. Myers gave the Trailblazers their first double-digit lead, at 32-21, with a jumper with 15:30 to go, and extended it to 41-25 with a three-pointer at the 9:20 mark. The Titans got no closer than within 10 points the rest of the way.
Tyanna Barton finished with seven points, four steals and three assists for the Titans, while Jordan Stewart and Naomi Brown added six points apiece. But TCC finished by shooting just 34 percent from the field, and went 8-for-23 from the free-throw line.
The Titans found their offensive groove in a 75-58 win over Grays Harbor on Jan. 4, as Grant scored a game-high 24 points, Stewart had 16 points and Barton added 13 points for TCC. The Titans next host South Puget Sound on Jan. 11 at 3 p.m. and travel for road contests at Clark on Jan. 13 at 6 p.m. and at Green River on Jan. 15 at 6 p.m.