A 20-2 run by the Rainier High School boys basketball team fueled its 51-37 win over Forks on Saturday, Dec. 2. The Mountaineers used efficient free-throw shooting, precise passing and stout defense to take the lead, which they refused to relinquish.
Despite the significant early lead, head coach Ben Sheaffer said he thought his team could have started better.
“I’m not totally sure why we got off to such a slow start. Maybe that was part of their game plan,” he said. “They packed in that two-three zone just to try to slow us down because we like to play fast and get out in transition. Once we started getting the ball to the high post, we began to get some better looks.”
The Meldrum brothers — Jacob, Joshua and James — combined for 34 of the Mountaineers’ 52 points, with Joshua scoring a team-high 16 points. Forks’ Brody Lausche scored a game-high 20 points.
Sheaffer lauded the play of seniors John Kenney and Jared Sprouffske throughout the game, complimenting their effort from the sideline.
“John didn’t play basketball last year, but he’s a strong, physical kid, very coachable. He made a huge difference when he caught the ball off the high post and was looking to facilitate from that area. Jared was really assertive in the second half and made some big plays for us.”
Rainier’s defense, particularly in the first half, locked down the Spartans on the perimeter. Sheaffer said the team’s on-ball defense was strong, but he would like to see the Mountaineers limit opponents to one shot and reduce second-chance opportunities. The Mountaineers allowed a season-low 37 points after allowing 65 in a loss to Eatonville and 54 in a win over Tenino.
Rainier now sits at 2-1 on the season and hosts Winlock at 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 7.