Conventional wisdom says sports teach life lessons.
If so, the Capital High School boys basketball team will learn two contrasting lessons in little more than 24 hours.
First, the Cougars had to learn patience as snow storms extended the amount of time between their Class 3A South Sound Conference finale win over Yelm and their 3A West Central/Southwest bidistrict quarterfinal game to 13 days — including the last five without so much as a practice.
Capital handled that bump in the road with a 61-39 rout of visiting Spanaway Lake on Wednesday night in Olympia to secure a berth in the 3A state regionals.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Olympian
“Thursday I had to deliver the news that we weren’t playing Friday,” Capital coach Brian Vandiver said. “The looks on their faces. ... I mean, a week of practice without a game this time of year sucks.
“Then we couldn’t practice Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. I can’t say how proud of them I am. To have that much time off and still execute the game plan is amazing.”
“It didn’t feel good, we wanted to get out on the court and play ball,” junior forward Brandin Riedel said.
Now, the Cougars (19-2) will have to take a crash course in rapid preparation, sneaking in a film session and a walk-through before meeting Prairie at 7:45 p.m. Thursday at Puyallup High School.
The Falcons denied South Sound fans the chance of a third Cougars clash with league rival Timberline in the semifinals by beating the Blazers at the buzzer Wednesday night in Lacey.
“Prairie’s a good team. They’ve won 12 games in a row. They beat us pretty good in a loser-out, winner-to-state game last year,” Vandiver said.
“We’ll be ready,” Riedel said. “We’re always ready, if the game’s a week from now or tomorrow.”
Chris Penner, Capital’s second all-time leading scorer, made his final game in the gym he’s played so well in for four years a good one, playing strong defense on Sentinels point guard Josiah Millen, and scoring a game-high 23 points.
“It’s not the points,” he said. “It’s playing well enough to get the win in my last game here than mattered.”
Penner now has a strong chance to pass the 1,400-point mark in career scoring with 1,391 to date, though he won’t pass Ryan Jones (1,821), who played for the Cougars in the 1990s.
Riedel added 13 for Capital, while three Sentinels (15-7) reached double figures — Millen with 12, Izayaih Shanks with 11 and Terrell Williams with 10, all in the first half.
Capital never trailed. The Cougars scored first when Grant Erickson passed out of the high post to Penner for a 3-pointer from the right corner.
They made their first three field goal attempts and caused Spanaway Lake to call its first timeout down 14-6 after four minutes had elapsed.
Spanaway Lake’s last gasp came late in the third quarter. They cut into what had been as much as an 18-point Capital lead on a Millen floater off the glass, and a follow shot by Wemba Okonda that made it 43-29.
But, moments later, a Sentinels foul put Capital in the bonus, sparking a 10-0 run to close out the quarter. The Cougars’ largest lead was 27 points, 59-32, three minutes from the end.
Spanaway Lake plays Central Kitsap in a loser-out game at 7:45 p.m. Thursday at Foss.
S – Shooting 14 of 48 (29.2 percent). Free throws: 7 of 9 (77.7). Turnovers: 10.
C – Shooting 22 of 41 (53.7 percent). Free throws: 10 of 13 (76.9). Turnovers: 17.
S – Terrell Williams 10, Izayaih Shanks 11, Josiah Millen 12, Trishion Sullivan 1, Wemba Okonda 2, Jarrod Wright-D’Abreu 3.
C – Chris Penner 23, Grant Erickson 6, Gabe Landers 10, Lucas Bowser 2, Brandin Riedel 13, Jake Brandsma 2, Duncan McDermott 2, Nathan Newman 2.