For three quarters, Elma was in complete control of a pivotal 1A Evergreen League matchup against the Tenino Beavers.
That all changed in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles let slip a 14 point lead over the final eight minutes of the game en route to a 50-47 loss to the Beavers on Tuesday at Elma High School.
Elma (6-7 overall, 4-3 1A Evergreen) entered the game with a two-game lead over Tenino for second place in league with two games left on the schedule.
A victory would have locked up second-place for the Eagles.
The game also had high stakes for Tenino, which needed a win in one of its two final games to secure one of the league’s four spots in the upcoming district tournament.
For the first three quarters, it was Elma that looked to be the dominant team.
The Eagles got their hands on everything, pounding the glass on both ends of the floor — earning extra scoring chances on the offensive end while limiting Tenino to one-and-done trips on the defensive boards — to open up a 14-9 lead at the end of the first quarter and extending it to 24-13 at the half.
Tenino (7-8, 3-4) cut the Eagles lead to 31-26 on a three from freshman guard Will Feltus with 3:26 on the clock, but Elma went on a 9-0 run to end the frame, capped by senior guard Logan Witt’s second buzzer-beating 3-pointer of the contest.
By the start of the fourth quarter, Elma had a seemingly comfortable 40-26 lead.
Then it all came crashing down.
Tenino opened the final quarter with a 12-2 run, mostly on the back of senior big man Takari Hickle, who scored seven points during the streak to get the Beavers back in the game, trailing 42-38 with just under five minutes left in the contest.
A few minutes later, Hickle scored in the post to cut Elma’s lead to 44-43 then made a steal at mid-court and converted a layup to give Tenino the lead for the first time in the game at 45-44 with 2:55 remaining.
Hickle then made two free throws to give Tenino a 47-44 lead with 2:14 left and Elma began to foul to slow the clock down.
But the strategy failed as the Eagles went cold from the field, with Elma’s only field goal down the scratch coming on a Jerred Bailey layup with 22 seconds left to bring the Eagles to within a bucket at 49-46.
Tenino’s Noah Schow followed by hitting the front end of a 1-and-1.
Down 50-46, Elma’s Canon Seaberg was fouled shooting a 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds left. The senior guard missed the first attempt, netted the second and then purposely missed the third in hopes of a team rebound and potential game-tying 3-pointer.
But Hickle was able to get a hand on the ball and deflect it away to end the game.
The loss was a tough one for Elma head coach Matt Ferrier to swallow as the Eagles missed a golden opportunity to lock up the league’s No. 2 seed.
“We played remarkable for three quarters. We were extremely focused and then the wheels fell off,” he said. “Bad shot selection and terribly-timed fourth quarter turnovers killed us. Tenino played a great fourth quarter, but we left the building feeling like we blew it.”
Witt led Elma with 12 points, including buzzer-beating threes in both the first and third quarters.
Hickle scored 26 to lead Tenino, 13 of those coming in the all-important fourth quarter.
The loss was particularly bothersome for Elma as the Eagles celebrated seniors Witt, Bailey, René Duran, Canon Seaberg, Tim Flores, Kolton Dupré, Nathan Comer and Conan Baxter on Senior Night.
“No one likes to lose home games and no one likes to lose on Senior Night,” Ferrier said. “We will see our character and how important it is when we arrive at the gym tomorrow.”
Elma closes out the regular season against league-champion Eatonville at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Eatonville.
PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL
South Bend 38, North Beach 34
South Bend secured the No. 5 spot in the 2B Pacific League with a 38-34 victory over North Beach on Tuesday in South Bend.
South Bend (4-10, 2-6 2B Pacific) got off to a slow start as the Hyaks (4-8, 1-7) jumped out to a 5-0 lead before a Hannah Jewell bucket and Raydynn Morley three tied the game up.
The two teams would battle back-and-forth throughout the first half, which ended in a 17-17 tie.
In the third quarter, South Bend established a 31-24 lead behind a strong defense and points in the paint from Jewell and fellow senior Reece Williams.
South Bend extended its lead to 13 midway through the fourth quarter before North Beach’s pressure defense allowed the Hyaks to climb back into the game.
But South Bend was able to keep control of the ball in the game’s final moments to secure the victory.
“North Beach always gives us fits as we started slow but excellent games from Williams and Jewell kept us close,” South Bend head coach Randy Carlson said. “Our senior starters stepped up in a big way to secure the win.”
North Beach’s Skyler Langston had a standout game with 22 points, including scoring all seven of her team’s points in the third quarter.
South Bend was led by Jewell with 15 points.
North Beach hosts Ilwaco at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday.
South Bend will compete in the 2B District 4 Tournament on Saturday (time, location and opponent to be determined).
Aberdeen 50, Rochester 40
Aberdeen swept the season series over Rochester with a 50-40 victory on Tuesday in Aberdeen.
Aberdeen (8-6, 5-5 2A Evergreen) got off to a hot start en route to an 18-6 lead at the end of the first eight minutes of the game.
“We started the first quarter playing the best basketball I’ve seen this season,” Aberdeen head coach Rachel Wenzel said. “(We were) hitting our shots and playing great defense.”
Rochester (4-8, 4-6) crept closer to Aberdeen after Bobcats post player Abby Martinez got into foul trouble in the second quarter, allowing the Warriors to cut the deficit to 26-16 by halftime.
“That made it a little more difficult to rebound,” Wenzel said of Martinez’s temporary absence. “Rochester made a few strong runs at the end of the game, but we finished well.”
The two teams played even in the second half, scoring 24 points apiece, as Aberdeen got its league record to .500 with the victory.
Aberdeen guard Maddi Gore had another strong outing, scoring a game high 18 points, seven coming in the first quarter to help get Aberdeen going and another seven in the final frame to secure the victory.
Martinez added 12 points, 10 of those coming in the second half after returning to the floor from early foul trouble.
Aberdeen hosts Centralia in its final home game of the regular season at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Prep Boys Basketball
Eatonville 71, Hoquiam 37
North River 55, Taholah 53
Prep Girls Basketball
Naselle 68, Taholah 41
Taholah 46, Elma 38 (Monday)