Mount Tahoma started by dominating inside against Graham-Kapowsin. That opened up the outside, and the Thunderbirds hit shots from there as well, relying on a trio of seniors in a 79-63 win over the Eagles at home on Dec. 28. Senior guard Brian Neal helped lead the way, scoring 16 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, while forward Andre Wiley added 23 points and nine rebounds and Ray West had 17 points for the Thunderbirds.
Wiley started quickly, scoring seven first-quarter points as Mount Tahoma held an 18-16 lead. Then Neal took over from the outside, scoring four baskets in the first five minutes of the second quarter to help boost the lead to 32-24.
“The first quarter was more getting it to the inside and get Wiley buckets,” Neal said. “Outside, it was more me and Ray shooting it and our teammates all getting involved.”
But Eagles star forward Alexander Jones kept Graham-Kapowsin in it in the first half with 15 of his team-high 21 points, and Robby Gill pulled them within 32-30 with a jumper with just under two minutes left. West responded by nailing one of his three three-pointers on the night, and the Thunderbirds led 35-32 at the half.
The Eagles pulled to within 40-38 early in the second half, but Neal helped lead a 12-2 run with three baskets in the next three minutes, and West added five points during the run.
“Everyone goes on runs, but the good teams keep the game on lock,” said Neal of the spurt.
The Thunderbirds’ defense, meanwhile, held Jones to just six points in the second half, forcing others to try to beat them.
“(Jones) played aggressive,” said Wiley. “I just tried my best to keep my hands up and be in his chest at all times and try to box him out, tried to keep him away from the basket.”
The Thunderbirds controlled the fourth quarter, maintaining a nine- to ten-point lead the rest of the way. West provided the outside threat for the Thunderbirds, hitting three three-pointers while senior guard Michael Rollins added seven points. The win moved Mount Tahoma to 6-1 overall on the year, and they added a 72-68 win over River Ridge on Dec. 29. They were set to host Bellarmine Prep on Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. in their final non-conference test.