Boys Basketball: White Sets Blocked Shots Record as Bearcats Stuff Tigers

Images from an Evergreen 2A Conference boys basketball game between Centralia and W.F. West at Centralia High School on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019.

Drain the Swamp: W.F. West Leans on Defense to Down Centralia 62-45

By Jordan Nailon

jnailon@chronline.com

Colby White established a new high-water mark for blocked shots in a game by a Bearcat here Thursday night on Ron Brown Court as W.F. West turned Centralia away by a score of 62-45 in the season’s second act of the Swamp Cup.

The countdown began in earnest just before halftime when Colby White collected his fifth blocked shot of the game. The W.F. West record for blocked shots in a single contest stood at seven stuffs and with his angular build and pterodactyl-like wingspan, it was clear that White was within reach of the mark.

Then, late in the fourth quarter, it happened. A Tiger collected the ball deep in the paint and gathered, foolishly, for another ill-fated shot attempt that White wound up redirecting off of the glass to tie the record. Then he added another. And another, to finish with a new school record of nine blocks in the game.

“I was kind of keeping count myself. I know it sounds pretty dumb, but I knew I had five early in the game. I knew that I just had to give it all I got to pull out the win. That’s more important than the record, but it was pretty cool,” said White, a 6’5” senior forward.

The teams seesawed back and forth in the opening minutes of the game as the prerequisite rivalry jitters worked their way out through a calamity of turnovers and errant shots. Once W.F. West found their groove they ran out to a 17-7 lead before the Tigers clawed back to trail by six with 37 seconds remaining in the quarter. A series of miscues by Centralia and made free throws by W.F. West in those closing seconds gave the Bearctats a 23-11 lead heading into the second quarter.

The Tigers battled back again in the second quarter thanks in large part to a whirlwind of rebounds and putbacks from the low block by Derek Beairsto. The junior forward finished the game tied for the team-high with 11 points to go with six rebounds.

“He’s practiced really well for us all season. He’s been in our starting lineup and he really does stay active around the basket. Defensively he’s been stepping up for us all season and tonight he really showed his offensive side,” said Centralia coach Kyle Donahue. “He really made his minutes count tonight to where once I got him in there I couldn’t get him off the court.”

That offensive burst from Beairsto helped Centralia cut their deficit to 10 points a minute and a half into the second quarter and seven points three minutes later. By halftime, the Tigers trailed W.F. West 33-26 and looked poised for a second half run. With their regular playmaker, Michael Ajoge, responsible for just two points up to that point it seemed inevitable that his shots would begin to fall eventually.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, aside from an emphatic dunk in the third quarter, the iron proved unkind for Ajoge all night.

Ajoge finished the game with just seven points but did collect a team-high nine rebounds.

“He just didn’t have his typical shooting night. That will happen sometimes when other teams go zone against us for quite a bit of the game,” explained Donahue. “We didn’t get the ball to him in a position that we normally do.”

The shooting woes were not limited to Ajoge though as Centralia managed to shoot just 30 percent from the field, including a dismal 2 of 17 on three point attempts. Malakai Emmons added 11 points and grabbed six rebounds for Centralia, and William Brown scored eight points.

W.F. West coach Chris White was more than happy to give his team credit for the Tigers troubles putting the ball through the cylinder. That’s what will happen when your team collects more than a baker’s dozen of blocked shots.

“I was pretty happy. It’s a tough assignment to guard Ajoge on the baseline so we knew we had to tag him and still get out to their shooters. It was a tough assignment and I was pleased with the way the kids responded to that,” said W.F. West coach Chris White.

While Centralia fell off course in the second half the Bearcats continued to whittle away, winning the third quarter 18-7 before taking their foot off the gas for a 14-12 advanage in the fourth quarter.

Tyler Speck scored a game-high 22 points for the Bearcats and grabbed nine rebounds and Colton Baker added 19 points. White wound up one blocked shot short of a triple double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Coach White said he’s always happy to be able to earn a victory on a rival’s home court.

“You know that on senior night on this court that you’re going to get everybody’s best. I was really pleased with our ability to come out and match that intensity that we knew they would have with some intensity of our own,” said coach White.

With a new record to his name and another Swamp Cup victory to boast, Colby White was already thinking about his team’s next challenge.

“We’re just trying to get our stuff together before we play Black Hills, hopefully compete and get second place to districts so we can get one more home game,” White said.

W.F. West (9-11, 6-3 conference) will play at Black Hills on Wednesday. Centralia (2-17, 1-8) will play at Rochester on Monday in their season finale.

At Centralia

BEARCATS 62, TIGERS 45

W.F. West 23 10 18 14 —62

Centralia 11 15 7 12 —45

W.F. West (62) — Yarter 6, Saevarsson 2, Gaines 1, Speck 22, Baker 19, White 12

FG: 26 of 58 —.440 FT: 5 of 11 —.450 Reb: 39 (White 13, Speck 9)

Centralia (45) — Kahn 3, Brown 8, Ajoge 7, Emmons 11, Crews 2, Strophy 2, Beairsto 11, House 1

FG: 19 of 62 —.300 FT: 5 of 12 —.420 Reb: 41(Ajoge 9, Beairsto, Emmons 6)

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