By Meg Wochnick
TENINO -- Sometimes, slow starts and sloppiness are inevitable. But when youre atop the 1A Southwest Washington Evergreen Division boys basketball standings and as red hot as the Tenino Beavers are, finding ways to blast through them comes a little easier.
Although the Beavers had just a slim six-point lead after two quarters of action in their Highway 507 rivalry game with Rainier Tuesday night, their size advantage in the paint and hot shooting from beyond the arc helped Tenino pull away for a 58-41 win over the Mountaineers to end the first half of league play a perfect 6-0.
Teninos win came days after a big road victory at Forks last Friday against a previously-undefeated Spartans team with the leagues reigning MVP, Braden Decker. Senior Ben Peterson hit a free throw with a half-second left in the game to give Tenino the 49-48 win.
In addition to their six-game winning streak, the Beavers (10-3 overall) have won eight of their past nine games and scoring defense is a big reason for their first place in the standings, allowing just 40.6 points all of their wins in league play.
Our chemistry is at an all-time high right now, said senior forward Justin Conklin, who had 12 points, including 2 of 4 from 3-point range.
Nihls Peterson, the only freshman on the roster, led Tenino with 13 points.
When Tenino wasnt hitting its 3-point shots (7-of-14), the majority of the points came inside the paint. The team had a significant size advantage over a smaller and younger Mountaineers (1-12 overall, 1-5 1A SWW) that started three players 5-foot-8 or smaller compared to four of Teninos starters 6-1 or taller.
We havent been shooting a lot of 3s this year, as many as we have been in the past, Tenino coach Rod Enos said. Our guards at 6-1, 6-2, can also go down there and post up. Justin (Conklin) does a nice job in the past and fight for position.
With a 27-21 lead at halftime, Teninos full-court pressure, man-to-man defense turned up its intensity, allowing just two third-quarter field goals on Rainier and outscoring the visitors 18-6 to take a 45-27 lead into the fourth quarter. Just minutes into the fourth, the lead grew to 51-28 following guard Dustin Hammonds second 3-pointer of the game
The Beavers win streak continues into Fridays game at home against Rochester, and Enos hopes to have his point guard and leading scorer -- senior Devante Harris -- back by then. Harris, who surpassed the 1,000-point mark in his career earlier this season. sprained his ankle during practice Monday and did not play Tuesday, forcing a small shuffle in the starting lineup. Senior Mac Shaw, normally the first player off the bench, earned the starting nod against his former team, which also featured his younger brother, Trevor, a sophomore.
Zack Froembling led Rainier with a game-high 14 points and Kyle Bell had 13.