Live by the gun, die by the gun.
The Black Hills Wolves, denied easy baskets inside by the packed-in Centralia Tigers defense, hung around in their 2A Evergreen Conference opener mainly on the long-range shooting of TJ Mickelson.
The 6-foot-1 junior led all scorers with 30 points, but the Tigers made it tough on Mickelson and the Wolves later in the game and held on for a 62-57 victory on the road Tuesday.
“It’s not really our style,” Black Hills coach Jeff Gallagher said. “We like to get out in transition. But that’s what they gave us.”
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Hodges Bailey scored 12 of his team-high 20 points in the second half, and he was the man Centralia (6-7, 1-0 2A EvCo) wanted with the ball in his hands down the stretch. He made four consecutive free throws in the final 16 seconds of the game to keep the Wolves at bay.
Mickelson nailed his final 3-pointer with 2:38 remaining. Jewell Day followed his steal with layup for Black Hills, and a Mickelson 16-footer had the Wolves within 58-56 with 35 seconds to go in the game. They got no closer, as two long 3-point tries by Mickelson went astray.
“We’re not disappointed with the effort,” Gallagher said. “We haven’t been able to do the little things. We’re real close to being real good.”
Cale Shute, who plays bigger than his listed 6-1, had six consecutive points near the basket midway through the first quarter to push the Tigers to a 16-11 lead at quarter’s end.
Mickelson heated up with 11 of his 13 first-half points in the second quarter, including three 3-pointers, as the Wolves pulled briefly into a tie at 27-27 before Centralia scored two hoops on defensive lapses by Black Hills for a 31-27 halftime lead.
“We did not like prosperity,” Gallagher said, and the pattern repeated itself in the second half.
The Wolves led briefly at 39-38 on a three-point play by senior guard Jason Underhill in the third period, but trailed 43-41 at the end of the period. Black Hills pulled into a tie at 45-45 early in the fourth on a putback by Mickelson of his own miss, only to have Bailey answer with six consecutive points, including a 3-pointer.
Layne Pertzborn came off the bench for 10 first-half points for Centralia, and finished with 13. Deter Voetberg played sticky defense and added 10 points, and Christian Peters also scored 10.
Day, a 6-2 senior, scored 13 points, the only other Wolves player to reach double figures. Mickelson had six 3-pointers in the game.
Black Hills (5-7, 0-1) visits conference rival Tumwater on Friday.
Centralia 62, Black Hills 57
C16151219 -- 62
BH11161416 – 57
Centralia: Voetberg 10, Bailey 20, Wasson 3, Peters 10, Shute 6, Pertzborn 13.
Black Hills: Brewer 4, Underhill 7, Mickelson 30, Crumley 3, Day 13.