OLYMPIA – By no means are the Capital Cougars where they want to be yet. Not even close.
But if Friday night’s 93-82 victory over River Ridge in the teams’ 2A Evergreen Conference boys basketball showdown means anything in mid-December, it’s that the Cougars should be considered league title contenders.
Since starting the season 1-2 with non-league losses to Olympia and Auburn Mountainview, the Cougars have won four in a row. Chemistry has been key as Capital is starting to jell under first-year coach Dave Mastin’s system.
“Now, we’re getting used to it,” senior guard Jared Eidenmuller said, “and playing much better.”
Eidenmuller was one of four Cougars in double figures with a team-high 24 points. The senior guard had 20 of his 24 points in the second half, including a span of three consecutive 3-pointers in the third quarter, the last giving Capital a 57-45 lead.
“When I make a couple, I feel good and I keep shooting and try to make them every time,” said Eidenmuller, who was 4-for-9 on 3-pointers.
There were times when Capital simply couldn’t miss from the floor, finishing 32-for-55 for a 58 percent shooting percentage. The Cougars (5-2 overall, 2-0 2A EvCo) employed a little bit of everything, including transition buckets, 3-pointers, and putbacks. In addition to Eidenmuller’s 24 points, Calvin Truong contributed 20, Keenan Williams added 19 and Justin Rudd 14. Six-foot-5 senior post player Mat Cox, who finished with eight points, had a game-high 15 rebounds.
While the Hawks never led, senior Brad Wallace kept them in the game. He finished with a career-high 44 points on 13-for-28 shooting. One of his six 3-pointers pulled the Hawks to 52-45, then another 3 made it 59-50 after three quarters.
“They shot the lights out and we didn’t do a very good job adjusting and staying home on shooters,” River Ridge coach John Barbee said. “Our philosophy is win our home games and split on the road. We didn’t do that.”
The loss dropped the Hawks to 3-5 overall and 0-2 in EvCo. The Hawks lost at W.F. West on Tuesday, 61-60.
River Ridge 60, Capital 38: Jazzlynn Brewster had a game-high 16 points and seven steals and freshman point guard MaKenna Schultz added 12 points to lead the Hawks to their first 2A Evergreen Conference victory.
With its full-court pressure defense, the Hawks forced the Cougars into early turnovers and jumped out to an early 24-10 lead following a 3-pointer by Schultz. In all, River Ridge had 15 steals, with seven coming from Brewster. River Ridge shot 51 percent (21-for-41) from the floor.
River Ridge coach Jackie Robinson said Friday’s game was “very important” given its 33-point loss to W.F. West in its opener Tuesday.
“I wanted to see how the team would respond,” Robinson said. “That would tell a lot about the team.”Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com theolympian.com/southsoundsports @megwochnick