TENINO — Sometimes, slow starts and sloppiness are inevitable.
But when you’re atop the 1A Southwest Washington Evergreen Division boys basketball standings and as red-hot as the Tenino Beavers are, finding ways to turn things around comes a bit easier.
Although Tenino led by just six points after two quarters of its Highway 507 rivalry game with Rainier on Tuesday night, the Beavers’ size advantage and hot 3-point shooting helped them pull away for a 58-41 win to end the first half of league play at 6-0.
This victory came on the heels of a big road win Friday against a previously undefeated Forks team and its reigning league 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. Scoring defense is a big reason why Tenino is in first place – the Beavers have allowed 40.6 points a game in league.
“Our chemistry is at an all-time high right now,” said senior forward Justin Conklin, who had 12 points and went 2-for-4 from 3-point range.
Nihls Peterson, the only freshman on the roster, led Tenino with 13 points.
When Tenino wasn’t hitting its 3-pointers (7-for-14), the majority of the points came inside the paint. The Beavers had a significant size advantage over the smaller and younger Mountaineers (1-12 overall, 1-5 1A SWW), who started three players 5-foot-8 or smaller. Four of Tenino’s starters were 6-1 or taller.
“We haven’t 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 post and fights for position.”
With a 27-21 lead at halftime, Tenino’s full-court, man-to-man defense turned up the pressure, allowing two third-quarter field goals and outscoring Rainier, 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 Hammond’s second 3-pointer of the game.
The Beavers’ put their streak on the line Friday at home against Rochester, and Enos hopes to have back senior Devante Harris, his point guard and leading scorer.
Harris, who surpassed the 1,000-point career mark this season, sprained his ankle during practice Monday and did not play Tuesday. Senior Mac Shaw, normally the first player off the bench, got the start against his former school – which also featured Shaw’s younger brother, Trevor, a sophomore.
Zack Froembling led Rainier with a game-high 14 points, and Kyle Bell added 13.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org www.theolympian.com/southsoundsports @megwochnick