ROCHESTER — Centralia saw a 16-point lead dwindle down to five with a minute to go but the Tigers converted their free throws down the stretch to claim a 77-68 road victory over Rochester in 2A Evergreen Conference play Wednesday.
Senior Landon Kaut paced the Tigers with a game-high 37 points, which included 13 of 16 from the charity stripe.
Both teams played to a 38-38 halftime tie in an intensity-fueled first half, but it was the Tigers who came out of the locker room on fire in the third quarter, reeling off a 19-5 run.
“Wasn’t happy with the defensive effort in the first half, giving up transition points,” Centralia coach Kyle Donahue said. “We made some shifts at halftime and we were a lot better defensively in the second half. We took care of the ball and shared the ball.”
The Tigers led by as many as 16 points in the second half before Rochester put together a furious comeback attempt, drilling three straight 3-pointers to cut the deficit to five with a minute to go.
Forced to foul, the Warriors sent the Tigers to the free-throw line and Centralia knocked in the charity-stripe shots down the stretch to preserve the victory.
“(Rochester) is a good team and they can shoot the ball,” Donahue said.
He praised Brandon Yeung for his first-half shooting, Cole Wasson for his rebounding, Rex Akins for his crucial minutes and Kaut for his big game offensively.
Wasson finished with a double-double of 10 points and a team-high 12 rebounds to go with five assists. Kaut added eight rebounds and Brandon Yeung knocked in 12 points.
The Tigers shot 21 of 39 from the field, including 5 of 16 from deep and 20 of 29 from the charity stripe. The Tigers won the rebounding battle, 32-21.
Rochester was led by a trio of double-digit scorers in Tyler Klatush (23 points), Sawyer Robbins (10 points) and Cam’Ron Henderson (10 points).
The Warriors shot 19 of 36 from the field, including 9 of 22 from downtown and 3 for 10 from the line.
Rochester (3-8, 1-4 EvCo) heads to Black Hills on Friday. Centralia (5-7, 3-4 EvCo) travels to Black Hills on Tuesday.