Top performer: PJ Talen, Tacoma Baptist
Scored 34 points with 11 rebounds in a 56-37 win over Rainier Christian
Tacoma Baptist 56, Rainier Christian 37: The Crusaders beat out the Mustangs on Thursday to secure a state berth that has been a long time coming.
“It feels very good, it’s been a while,” said Tacoma Baptist coach Rich Hamlin. “Rainier Christian has beat us twice this year, and we really looked forward to playing them again.”
Leading the charge for the Crusaders was PJ Talen, who had 34 points along with 14 rebounds. Talen has been on fire as of late, scoring 36 points in his previous two games.
“We just played a scrappy, hard-nosed defense and shut down a really good offensive team,” said Hamlin.
Rainier Christian struggled offensively, and was limited to eight points in the first quarter, nine in the second, eight in the third and 12 in the fourth.
“We started the season 1 and 4 in league, and the kids figured it out that we have to play hard and play tough,” said Hamlin. “Our record now is 17 and 8, so we’ve obviously turned it around.”
Also putting in a strong performance for the Crusaders was Jake McGehee, who had 13 points.
“The big takeaway is how proud I am of our kids,” said Hamlin. “We can compete against state teams and now we get to prove it some more.”
Centralia 57, Tumwater 52: The Tigers and T-Birds played it close at W.F. High School, but Hodges Bailey put Centralia over the top.
Bailey scored 23 points to lead all scorers, Tyler Ashmore added 13 and Layne Pertzborn had 11.
Tumwater had four players in double digits, led by CJ Geathers with 15 points.
However, it wasn’t enough for the T-Birds as they stumbled in the second half, allowing the Tigers to outscore them, 40-21.
Centralia enters the regional third-place game against Columbia River on Saturday with the last 2A Southwest District state berth at stake.
Olympic 64, Fife 54: Despite Eli Graham scoring 18 points, Fife fell short.
Olympic had the two top scorers in the game: Evan Turnquist had 20 points and Tyler Yost added 19.
The Olympic defense made sure that no Fife player other than Graham reached double digits.
Cooper Schelbert had eight points for Fife, which is out of the 2A playoff hunt.
Wilson 70, Mountain View 47: The Rams’ senior leadership and shared experience helped them continue their run in the playoffs by overcoming the Thunder on Thursday.
“All season we have been trying to get to the point where we are right now,” said Wilson coach Michelle Birge. “It takes time to build confidence, and I feel we are playing confident basketball.”
And nobody personifies that more for the Rams than Desiree Ayler. Ayler may not have the flashiest numbers, but she sets the tone for her team because when Ayler talks, the team listens.
“She does so many things that go unnoticed,” Birge said. “She makes up for her lack of offense with hard work and determination.”
Ayler, like fellow senior Josie Matz, is using experience to push the rest of the team forward in their playoff hunt by guiding the younger players. Ayler finished with six points.
Matz was the lead scorer with 26 points, and Kiara McMillan chipped in 10.
The Rams will compete for the final slot at the Tacoma Dome, facing Timberline at noon Saturday at Capital High School.
Timberline 49, Peninsula 38: The Blazers were the beneficiaries of a 20-point night from Kiara Brooks.
Teammate Keshara Romain had eight points.
The Seahawks were led by Kristen Ritchie’s 16 points, and Belle Frazier scored 12.
Gig Harbor 54, Bethel 46: The Tides rode the offense of Maddie Willett, Brynna Maxwell and Emily Shields.
“Bethel tried to keep the ball out of Maxwell’s hands, but the other two stepped up and scored some key buckets,” said Gig Harbor coach Megan Murray. “I am proud of my girls. They played hard and dug deep.”
Willett led her team with 18 points, Maxwell scored 14 and Shields put in 13.
The Braves were led by Tianna Brown with a game-high 21 points. Her sister, Tiarra Brown, had 13.
“They hit some outside shots, but we made sure to recover quickly and we stuck with that. It worked out well in the second half,” Murray said.
The Tides will play Prairie for the 3A regional championship at noon Saturday at Puyallup High School.