Chavez Leads Tigers to Opening Win at Tenino


TENINO — It didn’t take long after the final buzzer sounded for the sound of the Centralia fight song to come through the walls of the visitor’s locker room and onto the court in Tenino.

The Tigers, suffice it to say, were a bit excited to get their 2022-23 season started on a winning note, and to earn first-year head coach Austin Danielson a 56-16 victory in her first game at the helm of the program. 

“I was really proud of our effort and our attitude,” Danielson said. “We played hard, we worked as a team. The first game, some things are going to be a little sloppy, and they were. But we pulled together and tried to clean some things up.”

Centralia dominated from start to finish, though it had its down periods where the scoring dried up. But for brief spurts — a quick 9-0 run late in the second quarter, a few well-put-together possessions midway through the third — the Tigers showed flashes of a team that could improve on its district pigtail finish last season.

Everything started for the Tigers with junior guard Makayla Chavez. For the first three minutes of the game, she was the only player on the court able to put the ball in the basket, before finding senior Gracee Cline in the post with a nifty feed. Then it was back to scoring; she plugged in 10 of her game-high 19 points in the opening eight minutes.

Chavez also added three assists and three rebounds, and led the Tigers’ defensive effort with a night filled with jumped passes and other takeaways.

“Makayla has such a special ability to just be such a positive energy for our team,” Danielson said. “When she’s like that, we’re going to be hard to beat.”

Meanwhile, the team around her showed plenty of spark themselves. Gracie Schofield pitched in 11 points, and freshman Brooklyn Sprague had nine. Senior Gracee Cline, playing her first game after missing two years with injuries, put in five points and four rebounds in the post, while Kassandra Ritchey, who came off the bench to help with Tenino’s 6-foot, 2-inch Riley Jones, led the Tigers with nine boards.

Junior Emily Wilkerson, who only played the second half, still came away with five points and five rebounds. As a team, Centralia had 17 assists.

“It was good team basketball, we were sharing the ball,” Danielsonsaid. “We’ve got a lot of scorers.”

Brianna Asay led Tenino with six points, but the Beavers struggled all night long even getting the ball to a position to shoot. Tenino turned the ball over 28 times, and only hit six field goals.

“I have two girls back who played varsity, and when I say ‘played varsity,’ maybe averaged 10, 15 minutes, and played off of people,” Tenino coach Scott Ashmore said. “Now they’re expected to be the leaders, and that’s going to take some time.”

Centralia (1-0) will be right back in action Friday, hosting 3A Heritage. Tenino (0-1) will head up to King County on Saturday to face Bear Creek.