Mountaineers defense suffocates Riverhawks in 61-22 win

Rainier forced a whopping 23 Toledo turnovers


Coming into Wednesday’s game against Toledo, the Rainier High School girls basketball team had won all six of its games, including five by at least 14 points. That white-hot trend continued against the Riverhawks, as the Mountaineers took care of business, 61-22 in a home league matchup.

From the tip, the Mountaineers were locked in on defense, converting turnovers caused by their full-court press into easy transition buckets. They jumped out to a 17-0 lead and didn’t surrender a point for the first seven minutes and 48 seconds.

Brooklynn Swenson, whom head coach Brandon Eygabroad dubbed the “bulldog” of the team, was the maestro of both the Rainier offense and defense from the start. She cashed triples, handed out assists, and plucked the basketball from the grasp of the Riverhawks all night. With her help, the Mountaineers led 35-12 at the intermission.

“Brooklynn does a great job of controlling our pace of the game. She sets a really good pace when she gets that ball in her hands,” Eygabroad said of his junior guard, who finished with 10 points, five steals, five rebounds and four assists. “When the other team isn’t awake, they’re gonna find her running up the back. She does a great job of initiating our breaks. She does a lot that doesn’t show up in the scorebooks, but it’s invaluable.”

Eygabroad has emphasized playing a full four-quarter game no matter the competition. The Mountaineers did just that, holding the Riverhawks to just 9 points in the second half. They enjoyed themselves, often laughing off their mistakes and joking with each other on the bench.

“They’re loose enough to where they’re not worried about me, they’re worried about we,” Eygabroad said. “As long as we are doing OK, they can kick back and relax. But as they get a big lead, the challenge is always to remain locked in and not let the score dictate how hard we play or how focused we are.”

Bryn Beckman dropped a team-high 20 points, nearly outscoring Toledo on her own in the 61-22 win. Janess Blackburn scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and Angelica Askey put up 10 points and a pair of highlight-reel assists.

Rainier remains undefeated at 7-0 and 4-0 in league play, but the team can’t kick back and relax for the holiday break just yet. On Friday, Dec. 22, the Mountaineers will welcome Mabton, a team that made a run to the 2B state quarterfinals last season and recently defeated reigning 2B state champion Colfax. Rainier hosts Brewster on Saturday, Dec. 23 in a battle of undefeated teams, as of Dec. 20. The Bears have won six games by an average margin of 38.3 points.

“They’re two teams that were ranked in the top eight in the preseason for 2B, so it should give us an idea of where we’re at compared to the other side of the state. It should be two really good tests for us,” Eygabroad said.

The Mabton contest tips off at 6 p.m., while the matchup with Brewster will start at noon.