Mountaineers pull away to top Timberwolves in postseason opener


ROCHESTER — For a quarter against Morton-White Pass on Saturday, the Rainier Mountaineers were feeling a little deja vu.

Just four days early, the Timberwolves had given the Mountaineers everything they could handle. And now in the first round of the district tournament, the T-Wolves were battling hard again.

“It wasn’t how we wanted to come out,” Rainier coach Brandon Eygabroad said.

Rainier did what it couldn’t do on Tuesday in Randle, pulling away as the game went along for a 66-43 win.

The T-Wolves had success early against the Rainier press, working quickly to get the ball up the floor and getting their playmakers into space. As a result, they were able to get open looks, both from deep and inside.

When the Mountaineers were contesting, they were fouling. MWP shot 12 free throws in the first quarter alone.

In the second, Eygabroad made the switch to a 2-3 zone, a defense that would make the T-Wolves “earn everything.” The switch proved effective, as the Timberwolves connected on just one shot in the second quarter.

“We were struggling with the press,” Eygabroad said. “The press kind of played into their game.”

At the same time, the Rainier offense began humming. Angelica Askey and Bryn Beckman scored seven points each in the second quarter to help give the Mountaineers (20-2, 11-2 C2bL) a nine-point lead at the break.

“That second quarter, the ball started going through the hoop,” Eygabroad said. “We started doing the inside action, making extra passes, and truly playing together. That’s what it’s gonna take to win against the best opponents.”

Beckman’s strong night continued in the second half, where she added eight, including two 3-pointers, to finish with a game-high 19 points.

“She’s a gamer,” Eygabroad said. “She lives for these moments … Whether it’s crashing the boards every single time or being ready to knock down a big shot.”

Brooklynn Swenson also connected on three long balls on the day, and she finished with 15 points. Askey ended with 11.

For the Timberwolves (8-11, 4-9 C2BL), while the score got away from them in the second half, head coach Tim Roberts was pleased with the way they played up to “one of the best teams in the state.”

“You can see towards the end, we were gassed,” Roberts said. “We raised our game level. We were able to play with them. To their credit, they hit the shots they needed to.”

Roberts also acknowledged that the T-Wolves struggled against the zone, saying that they got more “stagnant” as the game went along.

“Once they went to the zone, they kind of lost focus on the sets that we have,” Roberts said. “The movement and the focus in the first half was better.”

Rainier is onto the district quarterfinals, where it will take on Raymond-South Bend on Tuesday at Montesano.

Morton-White Pass moves down to a loser-out game in the lower bracket. They will face the loser of the Ilwaco-Napavine quarterfinal on Thursday at Black Hills.