Owen Chambers is notorious for working over multiple sticks of gum on varsity boys’ basketball nights at Mount Tahoma High Schools – sometimes even chewing a whole pack.
“Probably changed gum four times tonight,” Chambers said.
Chambers probably should let his coaching counterpart from Friday night – Wilson’s Dave Alwert – in on his habit.
Loaded with sophomores and freshmen, the Rams are loaded for a run in the near future. But it was four Mount Tahoma seniors taking care of the business at hand, leading the host Thunderbirds to a 69-57 home victory in Narrows 3A action on Friday.
Mount Tahoma grabbed a 19-2 lead, survived a mid-game lull, then pulled away for good late in the third quarter.
Andre Wiley and Ray West led all scorers with 19 points apiece for the Thunderbirds. Brian Neal added 17 and Michael Rollins chipped in with 14 as the four seniors combined for all but two of the Thunderbirds’ points.
“We played real tough and together tonight,” said Wiley’s, Mount Tahoma’s tallest player at 6-foot-5.
The start – 1-for-12 shooting from the floor with nine turnovers in the first quarter – doomed the Rams. They played a bit timid and never did find that one go-to player to pull them through after the rough start.
“In basketball, you’ve got to have three things – you’ve got to have coaching, you’ve got to have leadership and you’ve got to have motivation,” Alwert said. “If the coach is dictating ... all three of those (aspects), it’s going to be a long season.”
Yet, Wilson made a run to start the second half by scoring on its first four possessions – capped by Ben Matz’s runner – to cut it to 35-31.
And the Rams immediately got a turnover – but gave it right back when they could not inbound the basketball within five seconds for a turnover.
Left alone on the left side, West made a 3-pointer for Mount Tahoma to push the lead back to 38-31 with 5 minutes, 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Wilson turned it over again on an offensive foul, and the Thunderbirds took advantage on Devion Hammond’s putback basket.
Mount Tahoma closed the third quarter by scoring on its final four possessions to grab a 49-39 lead, then opened the final quarter with big buckets from Wiley, West and Neal.
“We just kept our composure,” Wiley said.
And handed the young Rams – the defending league champions – a tough loss.
“What we discussed,” Alwert said, “is taking a bite of humble pizza.”Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 todd.milles@ thenewstribune.com blogs.thenewstribune.com/preps @ManyHatsMilles