Even with its leading scorer absent, Capital High School tallied its highest point total of the season Wednesday night.
Four players, led by Luke Layton, who had a team-high 20 points, scored in double figures for the Cougars, who topped River Ridge, 78-63, in a nonleague game at River Ridge High School.
“We have prided ourselves since summer basketball started that we’re a team in every sense of the word,” Capital coach Brian Vandiver said. “If one of our family members isn’t here, we need to have other family members step up in his absence.”
Chris Penner (flu) is Capital’s leading scorer this season, averaging 19.9 points per game. Vandiver said the team knew Tuesday that Penner would be absent, and talked about other players stepping in to fill his role.
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“We’ve got plenty of guys that can contribute,” Vandiver said.
It was a community effort, Dawson Landers said.
Chris Schnellman added 18 points for Capital, while TJ Mickelson and Landers had 12 apiece.
The Cougars quickly built a lead they never lost, and were up 24-7 by the end of the first quarter.
“We knew they were going to press, and put a lot of pressure (on us), so we just had to take care of the ball,” Landers said. “We just got out on the fast break and were hitting shots, and then we got confidence against the press, and just kept going from there.”
Capital took a 38-23 lead into the break, and didn’t let up in the third. The Cougars scored on nine straight possessions to keep the margin beyond 20 points.
Trey Dorfner — who scored a game-high 22 points, including six 3-pointers — sparked a late River Ridge rally.
His final 3-pointer, with just over three minutes remaining in the game, capped a 15-4 River Ridge run that cut Capital’s lead to 11 points.
However, Matt Mickelson, who added nine points for Capital, immediately answered with a 3-pointer at the other end, and the Cougars (7-1) managed the clock from there.
“I’m happy with where we’re at heading into Christmas, but we need to get better,” Vandiver said. “There are a lot of things we still need to work on to get where we want to be.”
River Ridge (5-2), typically a guard-heavy team, is working to find rhythm and the right combinations with several players, such as Jordan Skipper-Brown, Josh Kennedy and Kelle Sanders, offering an inside presence.
“I think we’re still trying to figure out roles,” River Ridge coach John Barbee said. “Even as coaches, we’re still trying to figure out our guard play, who’s going to play what.”
River Ridge will play Tumwater at 7 p.m. Thursday at Saint Martin’s University for its third game in three days. Capital has a weeklong break before it hosts W.F. West on Dec. 28.
“This is a tough stretch, we go three games in a row,” Barbee said. “We’ll get there. Typically, we haven’t been a December team. … Come January, we’ll be all right.”
Capital 24 14 24 16_78
River Ridge 7 16 14 26_63
C – TJ Mickelson 12, Matt Mickelson 9, Dawson Landers 12, Carson Bertelli 2, Luke Layton 20, Chris Schnellman 18, Tommy Richardson 2, Jack Collard 3
RR – Trey Dorfner 22, Jordan Skipper-Brown 8, Kolton Knox 9, Josh Kennedy 8, Kelle Sanders 4, DeNero Washington 8, Mark Valerio 2