It wasn’t as fluid as last week’s rout of Aberdeen, but the Capital High School boys basketball team picked off a second consecutive Class 2A Evergreen Conference opponent.
The Cougars — led by sophomore Chris Penner, who scored a game-high 20 points — rallied from a deficit late, and held on, to scoot by Centralia, 61-55, in a nonleague game on Monday night at Centralia High School.
“We definitely came out flat — way too flat,” Capital coach Brian Vandiver said. “I think we got a little happy with ourselves after Friday’s performance.
“We got up four to nothing, bang-bang, and I think what happened is, we thought, ‘Oh, here we go again.’”
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But that’s not quite what happened.
After Jack Collard and Penner hit a pair of shots, the Tigers went on an 8-0 run to take an early lead in the first quarter. And Capital didn’t take it back until midway through the fourth.
“We just had to settle down,” Penner said.
The Tigers steadily built a lead that was as high as 13 points at one point during the second quarter, aided in part by back-to-back buckets by Hodges Bailey, that capped another 9-0 Tigers run.
Though, Capital did trim Centralia’s lead to 25-20 by halftime.
“The second quarter, at moments we played well, but it wasn’t really until the fourth quarter that we realized, we can play fast, but we can also slug it out inside a little bit with some guys, too,” Vandiver said. “I think it took us a while to get used to that.”
Penner took over in the second half, connecting on a pair of 3-pointers early on, to help the Cougars climb back.
Chris Schnellman’s layup, and subsequent free throw, gave Capital its first lead since the opening minutes with five minutes, 23 seconds remaining in the game.
Schnellman hit a short jumper from the corner less than two minutes later to give the Cougars the lead for good.
“We just kept playing our way, tried to get high intensity in the second half,” Penner said. “We hit a couple shots. That kind of got us going.
“Then we started attacking the zone. We couldn’t attack the zone in the first half. I don’t know why, we just weren’t. Once we started doing that, we were getting easy layups, more fouls.”
Hodges Bailey, who scored a team-high 18 points for Centralia, pulled up for a deep 3-pointer with less than two minutes remaining to cut Capital’s lead to 53-51, but that’s as close as the Tigers got.
Capital made eight free throws down the stretch, and the Tigers committed two turnovers, stalling any comeback attempt.
The Cougars finished with three players in double figures. TJ Mickelson, a senior transfer from Black Hills, added 12 points, while Luke Layton had 11 and Matt Mickelson had 10. Isaiah Trevino added 11 points for Centralia.
Cap – Penner 20, TJ Mickelson 12, Layton 11, M. Mickelson 10, Schnellman 6, Collard 2
Cen – Bailey 18, Trevino 11, Pertzborn 6, Singh 6, Thomas 6, Shute 3, Ashmore 2, Edwards 2, Grimm 1