Mountaineers hold off Beaver rally for first win


TENINO — In their loss to Eatonville in its season opener on Tuesday, Rainier held a fourth-quarter lead, but couldn’t hold on and fell to 0-1.

On Thursday in Tenino, the Mountaineers led again late in a close game, but this time, they were able to come away with their first win of the season in a 60-56 victory.

“I think you saw the grittiness and the toughness from both sides,” Rainier coach Ben Sheaffer said. “I’m really excited we were able to finish that game.”

The Mountaineers (1-1) had their way offensively early on, ending the quarter on a 16-4 lead to take a 13-point lead into the second quarter.

But as the game went along, the Beavers (1-1) began clamping down on defense, and in the third quarter, they slowly began chipping away at the lead.

After allowing 23 points in the first quarter, the Mountaineers scored 23 in the second and third combined.

“Early on, they played very well on offense, and we weren't doing anything to disrupt them,” Tenino coach Ryan Robertson said. “We did better with that throughout the game.”

Neither offense could pull away in the fourth, and Ashton Moore capped a 7-0 run to tie the game at 53 with just over a minute and a half remaining.

On the next possession, however, Tenino’s Noah Schow was called for his fifth foul when he made contact with Peyton Sheaffer, who buried the shot and the ensuing free throw to give the Mountaineers the lead for good.

Sheaffer was thrilled with how his team stayed calm under pressure, saying that they’ve been working on their mental toughness and it’s nice to see dividends so early in the season.

“We were connected, we were tough, we finished and I think it says a lot about our guys,” Sheaffer said.

Jake Meldrum led the way with scoring for the Mountaineers, scoring 16 while also adding seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Josh Meldurm was just one point behind with 15, while Jimmy Meldrum and Sheaffer added 10 each.

While the close loss was a tough pill to swallow for Tenino, Robertson was pleased with the way they battled, saying that for a team that’s still learning how to mesh together, he’ll take a close game against a competitive team.

“I was very proud of our kids' heart and effort,” Robertson said. “To be in that thing and have a real chance to win shows their competitiveness and the heart that they have. It’s something to build on.”

Schow and Austin Gonia were the two catalysts for the Beavers, as each put up double-doubles. Schow had a game-high 24 points and logged 10 rebounds, while Gonia scored 21 and grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds while also tallying five steals.

The Beavers are back in action tomorrow at Rochester, while the Mountaineers will return to the court on Saturday when they host Forks.