Second-half run powers Rainier over Mabton


RAINIER — After three straight blowouts, the Rainier girls basketball team found itself a bit back on its heels early Friday evening, in a non-league clash with Mabton. But the Mountaineers finally found their run early in the third quarter and never looked back, rolling to a 53-40 win.

Rainier went into halftime down by four after managing just 18 points in the first 16 minutes. When Angelica Askey drilled a 3-pointer a minute out of the break — after the Mountaineers got nothing from beyond the arc in the entire first half — it signaled the beginning of a change.

Mabton came back to hold a 26-23 lead, but Bryn Beckman drilled another triple to tie the game up at 26-26. From there, the Mountaineers (8-0, 3-0 C2BL) went on an 11-3 run, more than doubling their total over the course of eight minutes.

“It started on the defensive side,” Rainier coach Brandon Eygabroad said. “I thought we locked down defensively for the most part… and when we got the rebound, we were taking advantage and pushing it and getting the easy buckets in transition.”

The run continued into the fourth quarter, with the Mountaineers getting their lead out to as many as 18 before the Vikings scratched back a couple of buckets in garbage time.

Askey led the way with 22 points, and Beckman had 13 — all coming in the second half.

Brooklynn Swenson only scored six points but did just about everything else for Rainier, logging 15 rebounds, six assists and three steals.

“Brooklynn was just a beast on the boards tonight,” Eygabroad said.

She led a dominant effort as a team, with Rainier holding an advantage of a couple inches across the board over its guests. The Mountaineers won the rebounding battle 46-23, including coming down with 15 offensive rebounds.

“I thought we did a good job of going vertically and not going over their backs,” Eygabroad said. “We are long — exceptionally long — so that helps.”

Early on, though, the height difference didn’t really matter. Mabton hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter, and forced nine turnovers on defense — and even when the Vikings weren’t coming away with steals, they were forcing Rainier into sped-up looks and rushed shots.

That changed in the second half. And it’s not the first time the Mountaineers have pulled that act on a top-level opponent this season, waking up to sprint after a spell of treading water.

“I think that resiliency and the confidence among ourselves of, ‘If and when we figure out this game, it’s going to hurt them,’” Eygabroad said.

Rainier will be right back at it Saturday with another non-league test, at home against Brewster, to end their slate of games this month.