Centralia High School was a free throw away from a first-place tie with visiting Tumwater in Class 2A Evergreen Conference boys basketball on Tuesday night.
But the Tigers missed four foul shots in the final 28.6 seconds of regulation with the score tied, got little going in overtime and fell to the league-leading Thunderbirds, 64-57.
“It was a tough game. Centralia has a good team, and they were prepared,” said Tumwater coach Thomas Rowswell, whose team had breezed to a 21-point win over the Tigers on January 6. “But our guys found a way to go on the road on a Tuesday night in the middle of finals week and get a win.”
In a game of hectic runs, Tumwater (12-4, 6-0 EvCo) held a 48-42 lead with four minutes left before Centralia (10-6, 4-2) scored seven consecutive points to grab a 49-48 lead on a baseline jumper by Layne Pertzborn, who finished with 14 points.
The T-Birds’ Brian Marty countered with a free throw to tie it. Twice in the final half-minute, a Tiger went to the line for two free throws — first Pertzborn, then Jordan Thomas — but neither found the net, and the game went into overtime, where Tumwater quickly gained control.
Thomas Drayton, who led the T-Birds with 19 points, scored seven consecutive points in OT. Three other Tumwater players reached double figures: CJ Geathers (16), Andrew May (11) and Cade Otton with 10. Hodges Bailey led Centralia with a game-high 25.
Tumwater jumped out to a 19-11 lead late in the first quarter thanks in part to cold shooting by the Tigers. But in the second quarter, a mix of multiple defenses thrown at the T-Birds by Centralia coach Kyle Donahue — who lost his first game since taking over on an interim basis from ailing Ron Brown — held them without a point for more than five minutes, extending into the third quarter.
“We knew something was coming, but we weren’t sure what,” Rowswell said of his staff’s anticipation for the rematch. “They caught us off balance. We were a little hesitant.”
With its alternating man and zone halfcourt defenses and varieties of full-court pressure paying off defensively, Centralia went on a 14-0 run. When a cutting Pertzborn scored off a pass from Thomas for the first basket of the second half, the Tigers were up 32-26.
That’s when Geathers went to work, hitting three consecutive 3-point baskets to regain the lead for Tumwater, 33-32.
“We had to find some energy,” Geathers said. “I needed to be more aggressive.”
When he added a coast-to-coast drive minutes later, Tumwater went up 40-34. But on a night of streaky play, Centralia tied it 40-40 at the end of the third to set up the fourth-quarter dramatics.
T – Marty 8, May 11, Geathers 16, Otton 10, Slater 0, Koukal 0, Drayton 19, Weller 0, Koelsch 0.
C – Trevino 3, Pertzborn 14, Thomas 9, Bailey 25, Ashmore 3, Shute 3, Edwards 2.