Trailing by 14 entering the fourth quarter, Tenino sparked a comeback and took the lead with two and half minutes to go before coming out on top in a hack-a-thon down the stretch for a 50-47, 1A Evergreen Conference road victory Tuesday.
“It was a battle,” Tenino coach Joe Chirhart said. “It was so dang fun. It was senior night; a packed house.”
The Beavers fell behind early as they struggled to adjust to the Eagles’ game plan. Against Elma’s 10 seniors, the Beavers look like they might get run out of the gym at first. But the young Beavers’ squad responded after some halftime adjustments.
“We did not play well in the first quarter,” Chirhart said. “We switched some things up, worked on ball pressure so they couldn’t run the ball so easily. We picked them up at half court and defended them hard.”
It worked as the Beavers outscored the Eagles 36-21 in the second half behind some precision long-range shooting — six 3-pointers in total — to take the lead with 2:30 to go.
With its lead slipping away, Elma began burning up fouls to run the clock down. But the Beavers held strong, hitting 5 of 7 from the line.
Up five with just over a minute to go, Tenino flipped the script and began fouling Elma, burning five seconds off the clock each time.
“Execution and focus is what took place in the fourth quarter, and having grit,” Chirhart said. “We stepped up and hit free throws.”
Senior post Takari Hickle finished with a monster double-double of a game-high 26 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. He also drained two 3-pointers.
Austin Gonia added 10 points, Noah Schow scored nine and Jack Burkhardt added nine rebounds and three blocks.
“I challenged my kids and they gave everything they’ve got,” Chirhart said. “They showed out.”
Tenino (7-8, 3-4) next heads to Montesano for a weighty league matchup on Thursday.