Men’s College Basketball: Blazers Torch Red Devils in Second Half
Sharing the Wealth: Eleven Players Score in Key Conference Matchup
By Jordan Nailon
With 13 minutes left to play here Monday night Lower Columbia found themselves within shooting distance of the lead.
After trailing 40-33 at the half the Red Devils had scrapped back during the opening minutes of the second half to cut their deficit to just two points. That’s when things began to fall apart for the visitor’s, though, as they were outscored 34-18 while the Blazers secured the bag on an 81-63 victory over their Western Conference rivals.
“This is a big game for us obviously. Any time you can beat LCC two times in the same year is huge. I can’t remember doing that at any time during my coaching career so this is a big night for these guys. They’re excited,” said Centralia coach Jason Moir.
Eleven players scored on the night for the Blazers, including three players who reached double digits. Marqus Gilson led the Blazers with a 17 point and 10 rebound double-double while Liam Murphy added 14 points and LaBrandon Price netted 10 points for the winners.
With all but one player reaching the scoring column on the night the Blazers enjoyed an efficient night hoisting shots from the field. Centralia shot a clean 50 percent on field goals in the game in addition to a 58.3 percent clip from beyond the arc and 84.2 percent from the charity stripe.
Meanwhile, Lower Columbia saw their shooting percentage drop from 48 percent from the field and 44 percent from long range in the first half to just 40 percent and 27 percent, respectively, in the second half.
Seth Hall led LCC with 17 points and Travis Patrick added 16. No other player scored more than six points in the game.
“If we can play offense and defense together on the same night it’s going to be pretty exciting,” noted Moir.
Looking back on that pivotal stretch in the second half when his team snatched the momentum for good Moir said it was a wave of stoicism that lifted his team over the competition.
“We were just trying to stay composed. It seemed like we had started to focus too much on the stripes and what fouls were being called or not called,” said Moir.
The Blazers tight lipped technique worked out just as Moir had hoped, too. Five minutes after they held just a two-point lead on their foes Centralia owned a 20-point lead and their bench mob could hardly contain their excitement.
Moir pointed out the balanced scoring sheet when searching for the element that pushed his team beyond the grasp of an athletic Lower Columbia squad.
“That’s what we’ve been trying to tell these guys. I mean every one of these guys can get out there and put the ball in the basket. We just need to be confident in trusting each other. You saw that tonight where we moved the ball and we don’t feel like we need one guy to take over,” Moir said. “Once you realize that you can trust the players around you and they can step up and have big nights it’s contagious.”
Tyler Ashmore added nine points for Centralia while Dionte’ Dixon and Jimmy Harding each scored eight points for the Blazers.
The win puts Centralia in third place in the Western Conference, right behind South Puget Sound and ahead of Highline. The Blazers (16-8, 6-3) conference will play at South Puget Sound in Olympia on Wednesday.
Men’s College Basketball
BLAZERS 81, RED DEVILS 63
Lower Columbia 33 30 —63
Centralia 40 41 —81
Lower Columbia (63) — Dennis 4, Johnson 5, Hall 17, Hector 7, Canete-Hall 2, Young 3, Spink 3, Patrick 16, Ford 6
FG: 24 of 54 —.444 FT: 8 of 13 —.615 Reb: 31 (Ford 9)
Centralia (81) — Price 10, Clarke 4, Dixon 8, Gilson 17, Ashmore 9, Prangley 6, Murphy 14, Hoff 2, Stanley 3, Hardin 8
FG: 29 of 58 —.500 FT: 16 of 19 —.842 Reb: 28 (Gilson 10)