Elma gets some Senior Night magic, stifles Tenino to pick up key league win

Down by one at the half, Eagles hold Beavers to one point in third quarter en route to 92-39 victory

Of all the mountains to climb in the 1A Evergreen League race, the Elma Eagles arguably faced the toughest ascent.

Entering the final week of the regular season, the Eagles were tied the Hoquiam for third place and had second-place Tenino and two-time league champion Eatonville on the schedule.

Needing a victory to have a chance at a No. 2 seed, Elma dominated the second half en route to a 62-39 thrashing over Tenino on Tuesday in Elma.

“I think we just really, really wanted it,” Elma sophomore guard Traden Carter said of the Senior Night victory. “Some of our seniors, at least for me it was emotional to see them. It was their last (home) game and all and I really wanted to win it for them and I think our team did that.”

The Eagles (11-8 overall, 4-3 1A Evergreen) worked a little Senior Night magic, particularly in a second half where the Elma defense held the Beavers to just 12 points, one in the third quarter alone to take command of what was a one-point game at the half.

Neither team shot well in the early going as the game remained scoreless through nearly the first three minutes of the first quarter, with Elma missing its first five shots from the field.

Tenino (11-9, 4-4) took an early 7-2 lead after sophomore standout Noah Schow scored off an Elma turnover, one of three for the Eagles in the first quarter.

Trailing 11-8 after a low-scoring first period, the Eagles tied and took the lead when sophomore spark-plug AJ Holmes came off the bench and scored in the paint. Junior guard Cason Seaberg followed with a 3-pointer to give Elma a 17-14 lead, forcing a Tenino timeout with 5:21 to go in the first half.

The Beavers responded with four straight buckets after the timeout to regain the lead at 22-17 with just over three minutes left in the second quarter.

Elma got to within a basket as Holmes hit threes on two consecutive offensive possessions, the latter trimming Tenino’s lead to 25-23 with 2:12 to go in the half.

The teams would alternate baskets with under a minute left, with the Eagles scoring on an offensive rebound and putback by senior post Gibson Cain and – after a basket by Schow – an athletic drive and bucket by Seaberg to put Elma down a point 28-27 with 30 second on the clock.

RYAN SPARKS | THE DAILY WORLD Elma senior Gibson Cain (13) attempts a reverse layup during the Eagles’ 62-39 victory over Tenino on Tuesday at Elma High School.

RYAN SPARKS | THE DAILY WORLD Elma senior Gibson Cain (13) attempts a reverse layup during the Eagles’ 62-39 victory over Tenino on Tuesday at Elma High School.

“First half was dominated by (Tenino) rebounding and getting offensive boards. It was crazy. We were getting first-possession stops but giving up points off of the offensive boards,” said Ferrier, who had some straight-to-the-point advice for his team at halftime.

“He gave us the reality that if we lost this game, we’re going to remember it for the rest of our lives,” Carter said. “We didn’t want our seniors living with the burden of that, so we just had to fight.”

Fight they did as the Eagles delivered a knockout blow in the third quarter.

Elma turned its energy up a notch to harass and disrupt Tenino’s offense, pressuring the ball, getting into passing lanes, rotating quickly and playing physical on the boards to lock down the Beavers.

The Eagles scored five points off offensive rebounds in the frame and took a 41-28 lead on a Carter turnaround jumper with 1:31 on the clock, capping a 14-0 run to start the second half.

Elma held Tenino scoreless for nearly the first seven minutes of the period, with a lone Austin Gonia free throw at the 1:11 mark snapping Elma’s run.

A Carter bucket from the low block late in the frame gave Elma a comfortable 43-29 lead entering the fourth quarter.

The Eagles opened the final period with another Holmes bucket off an offensive rebound and extended the lead to 20 points at 51-31 when Carter scored off a feed from Cain halfway through the period.

Tenino was unable to cut into the deficit much the rest of the way, never getting closer than 16 points as Elma was able to play its reserves over the final few minutes of the game in the well-earned 62-39 victory.

“It was just us being physical, completely physical,” Ferrier said of his team’s key to victory. “In the second half, we cut off lanes, we pushed, we pulled, we elevated and we did every single thing an athletic basketball team does to control the other team defensively. It was a marvelous effort there on the defensive end in the second half.”

Elma was led by Holmes with 18 points and seven rebounds with Carter (14 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists) and Seaberg (12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists) also scoring in double figures for the Eagles.

Gonia (14 points) and Schow (12 points) led Tenino.

As a team, Elma shot 44% from the field on 26-of-59 shooting and had 17 of its 36 total rebounds come on the offensive glass, led by Cain and Holmes, with eight and four offensive boards, respectively.

“It’s not just the starting five, it was the starting seven this game,” Carter said of the overall team effort. “We all just really pulled through and fought really hard.”

“If you look at our score book, in the games where we’ve been most successful this year, we are evenly-balanced,” Ferrier said. “When you can get contributions across the board, you beat good teams and (Tenino) is a good basketball team. I know they struggled in the second half, but it’s probably we imposed a little bit of our will on them.”

RYAN SPARKS | THE DAILY WORLD Elma junior Cason Seaberg (22) defends Tenino sophomore Noah Schow during the Eagles’ 62-39 victory on Tuesday at Elma High School.

RYAN SPARKS | THE DAILY WORLD Elma junior Cason Seaberg (22) defends Tenino sophomore Noah Schow during the Eagles’ 62-39 victory on Tuesday at Elma High School.

With the win, Elma’s hopes for a possible No. 2 league-seed and home playoff game in the district tournament are still alive while Tenino will have to settle for either the third or fourth seed.

Elma will face league-champion Eatonville at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Eatonville. The Cruisers are coming off their first league loss in two seasons after suffering a 65-52 upset at the hand of red-hot Hoquiam on Tuesday.

Elma and Hoquiam are currently tied for second-place in the league standings with the final three seeds still in question.

“We definitely want a higher seeding in district, but to be honest, it’s not going to affect us that much,” Carter said. “We’re all going to play every seed, eventually, but it’s always nice to have a higher seed. So it’s good that we got this win.”

Ferrier remains focused on the growth of his team, which has turned the season around after suffering three straight league losses in late January.

“We’re a young basketball team that is creeping toward being a good basketball team. We need to figure out how to win, obviously, and we did that tonight,” he said. “Not to mention we’re moving into the district tournament, so we need to be playing our best basketball, and that second half of basketball was one of our best this year.”

Tenino 11 17 1 11 — 39

Elma 8 19 16 19 — 62

Scoring: Tenino – Gonia 14, Schow 12, Burkhardt 3, Feltus 2, O’Connor 8. Elma — Skeem 3, Holmes 18, Flores 2, Carter 14, Cain 7, Seaberg 12, Studer 6.