Using an opportunistic, pesky defense and a fast-paced offense, Mount Tahoma overcame their significant size disadvantage to beat host Stadium 77-69 on Dec. 9.
The Thunderbirds were led by point guard Michael Rollins, who finished with 29 points, including three crucial three-pointers down the stretch. The Tigers’ Corey Glackin-Coley did all he could in the losing effort, finishing with a game-high 31 points and 15 rebounds, but Mount Tahoma’s trap defense forced countless Stadium turnovers in the second half.
“That’s the way we have to play,” said Mount Tahoma head coach Owen Chambers. “We figured if we can pressure the ball, we can get them in some trap situations. Our kids just really played their heart out tonight.”
Rollins and Chris Davis, who finished with 13 points, marched Mount Tahoma out to a 20-14 lead, but Glackin-Coley dominated inside, and Patrick Minzel hit two key three-pointers in the second quarter to make the score 36-33 at the half.
The Tigers remained close in the third quarter, thanks largely to Glackin-Coley, but seemingly every time they closed the gap Rollins answered, including hitting two threes late in the quarter to put the Thunderbirds up 56-46.
“We were being smart and weren’t rattled, weren’t trying to force shots up or anything,” Rollins said.
Patrick Minzel, who finished with 14 points for Stadium, hit another of his four three-pointers halfway through the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 61-59, but Rollins answered again with a three of his own, and Nicholas Breckenridge followed with a three-point play for a 67-59 lead.
“That was huge,” Chambers said, also crediting Davis and freshman Keyshawn Craig. “When (Stadium was) coming back, we spread the floor. I’ve got to give credit to the kids because they share the basketball.”
While Clackin-Coley – who was 14-for-24 from the field – tried to rally Stadium, the Thunderbirds maintained control to put the game away.
Rickey Bellamy and Jared Weaver chipped in with eight points apiece for Mount Tahoma, while Eric Anderson-Connolly added nine points for Stadium. In the league opener for both teams, Mount Tahoma picked up their first win of the year and sits at 1-2 overall, while Stadium remained winless at 0-5 overall.
“The confidence is a lot higher,” said Rollins, who didn’t hesitate when mentioning the main goal. “To win. I don’t want to lose anymore. I’m going to play as hard as I can and give 100 percent.”
By Jeremy Helling
WILSON USES DEFENSE TO DOMINATE
Games starting at 9 a.m. usually produce one of two results: the “I just got out of bed” factor or the “quick out of the gate” factor. The latter took precedence four minutes into the game on Dec. 10 for Wilson, as Jaiden Martin scored from underneath to break the scoreless tie and the Rams would roll from there to a 58-38 win over Enumclaw at Highline Community College in the 2011 Les Schwab Tires Preview.
“Our goal today was to play solid ball and to take it right at Enumclaw,” said Wilson head coach Dave Alwert, as he saw his squad improve to 3-1 on the year.
“Once we got used to the game early on and we got better as the game went on,” said Martin, who led all scorers with 20 points.
Going into the game, Wilson had a huge problem to deal with in the low post with Enumclaw’s size. “We made their bigs come out and play,” said Alwert of the Rams, who would put on a clinic at times with their sharp perimeter passing. That led to constant penetration in the lane by point guard Phoenix Waters and Ben Matz going 3-for-3 from beyond the arc as part of his 15 points.
Elaborating again on their size disadvantage, Martin added “we’re not a very big team, but we pack the lane pretty well.”
With Wilson nursing a six-point lead going into the fourth quarter, the Rams would kick it up a notch – with Waters leading the way with his game high eight assists – as the Rams would extend their lead to double digits and never look back.
“I like the way we responded opening the fourth quarter,” said Alwert. “This could be a forerunner to the rest of December and league play starting in January.”
By Steve Mullen
CRUSADERS’ COMEBACK FALLS SHORT
Despite using a solid third-quarter run to make up a big deficit, Tacoma Baptist was unable to sustain momentum, falling 59-48 to Chief Leschi on Dec. 13.
“We’re a young team,” said Crusaders head coach Eric Sivertson. “We play basketball a lot like a football team, and that showed at times tonight. When we took our time and executed, we got what we wanted. But unfortunately, they did that more than we did.”
Scott Peterson, who finished with a team-high 17 points, pulled the Crusaders back from an 11-point deficit to within 37-34 with back-to-back three-pointers and a layup in the lane late in the third quarter, but Tacoma Baptist had a hard time dealing with Nate Bisson, Chief Leschi’s 6-foot-5 post player who finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out.
“He’s doing it every game for us. He puts it in,” said Chief Leschi coach Eric Smith of Bisson. “Right now he’s leading the state in scoring, so that’s our go-to man, we’re going to ride him all the way.”
Bisson answered Peterson with three baskets of his own late in the third, boosting the Warriors back to a 45-38 lead at the start of the fourth quarter. When Bisson fouled out halfway through the fourth, Joe Rideout – who finished with a game-high 23 points – stepped in to seal the game for the Warriors with clutch free-throw shooting.
“It kind of pumped me up,” said Rideout of Bisson’s foul-out. “Because my leader was out, and so I had to step up and be a leader and make those free throws.”
Peterson helped Tacoma Baptist march out to a 14-13 first-quarter lead, but Bisson turned it on in the second quarter as the Warriors outscored the Crusaders 17-6 in the period to take a ten-point halftime advantage.
“We kind of live and die by the three sometimes, which means sometimes you’re going to go on runs and sometimes you’re going to go on droughts where you’re not hitting your shots,” Sivertson said.
Peterson and Dayton Pascua, who finished with 12 points, then helped lead the Crusaders’ charge at the start of the second half, with Dalton Wintersole also contributing inside with seven points and a game-high 13 rebounds. But despite the efforts, Bisson and Rideout proved too much for the Crusaders.
“Our game plan was to take Bisson out of the ball game and make some of the other guys beat us,” Sivertson said. “At times they did (beat us), and at times the plan worked.”
Despite the loss, Sivertson added the game was a step in the right direction toward getting the playing rotation finalized.
“We get our players later than everybody else, so we kind of always operate the first month of the season a week or so behind everybody else. For us that means we’ve got to get caught up, get some of our technical things right, and come out of Christmas break ready to go.”
By Jeremy Helling