Centralia was more than ready to play spoiler during the second round of the annual rivalry Swamp Cup Wednesday at home.
The Tigers led most of the way until the Bearcats took the lead for good at the start of the fourth quarter, part of a 12-0 run, to outdistance Centralia and come away with a 62-47 victory and a Swamp Cup sweep.
“It feels great,” W.F. West coach Chris White said. “(Centralia) is a tough, gritty, gritty team. And they play really hard, so it’s tough sledding. I’m proud of my guys for staying calm and weathering the storm and problem-solving together.”
The Tigers had upset in their eyes to start the game, rushing out to a 15-12 lead in the second quarter and leading 26-22 at the half behind Landon Kaut’s crafty spin moves in the low post.
Centralia still held onto a 36-35 lead entering the fourth quarter before disaster struck for the Tigers.
Dirk Plakinger helped the Bearcats take the lead for good with a layup with 7:15 to go as W.F. West went on a 12-0 run to go up 47-36 with 4:50 left to play, capped by Gage Brumfield’s 3-pointer.
“We just started playing with a lot of energy and trying to focus on not rushing the game,” said Plakinger, who finished with 21 points. “We weren’t very strong with the ball in the first half but I think we did better in the second half.”
Cohen Ballards’ 3-pointer snapped the Bearcats’ big run to cut the Tigers deficit to 56-44 with 1:15 to go. But by then, W.F. West had the momentum and would not relinquish it as it turned into a free-throw game for the Bearcats the rest of the way.
“The start of the fourth quarter, we just kicked the ball around a bit and they hit a few 3s and we didn’t,” Centralia coach Kyle Donahue said. “We did not shoot the ball well.”
Dalan finished with 20 points for the Bearcats, while Kaut led the Tigers with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Cole Wasson tallied nine points and six rebounds and Rex Akins added six points and six rebounds for Centralia.
“Landon did a really good job and took a lot of contact,” Donahue said. “Rex had a phenomenal, all-around game and had some key buckets. Cole gives up a lot of size and makes up for it with smart, fundamental basketball.”
The Tigers (5-11, 3-8 EvCo) were already eliminated from postseason contention after losing to Shelton on Monday. They host Aberdeen in their regular-season finale on Friday.
W.F. West (11-6, 8-2 EvCo) has now won six in a row and is in the driver’s seat for the EvCo’s No. 2 seed into the district playoffs. The Bearcats head to Black Hills on Thursday, then close out the regular season at home against Rochester.