Despite a scoreless first half of the opening quarter, the Rainier High School boys basketball team enjoyed its best offensive night of the young season in a 77-39 win over Winlock on Thursday, Dec. 7.
The victory marked the first conference win of the year for the Mountaineers in their second attempt.
Neither team found the bottom of the net through the first four minutes of the first quarter, but a stout defense and efficient interior passing lead to a quick 8-0 run for the home team.
“I don’t know what happened there,” Rainier head coach Ben Sheaffer said of the scoreless start. “I think we over-rotated and over-committed on our full-court pressure a couple of times and got out of position.”
Rainier splashed shots from the outside early and often, as James Meldrum knocked down two consecutive treys to open up a big lead. Joshua Meldrum beat the buzzer with a floater, giving the Mountaineers a 22-7 lead through the first quarter.
The second quarter was more competitive, as the Cardinals traded baskets with the Mountaineers. Rainier led 35-17, but that was as close as the score would be.
The Mountaineers continued to knock down triples in the second half, as John Kenney and Johnny Boesch connected from deep to close the game out. Overall, the Mountaineers finished with 12 three-point shots and a season-best 77 points in the victory — topping a previous best of 59 in the season-opening loss to Eatonville.
“On the good looks that we had from three, we got dribble penetration first, we got feet in the paint and we kicked out for open threes, and that was a difference in the second half,” Sheaffer said. “The quality of our looks was better and we were a little more patient in the second half.”
Joshua Meldrum finished with a game-high 17 points, while James Meldrum added 16. Three more Mountaineers scored in double figures — Jacob Meldrum with 11, Boesch with 11, and Peyton Sheaffer with 10.
The Mountaineers improve to 3-1 on the season and 1-1 in conference play after starting 0-1 in both categories after the first game. Up next is a home non-conference bout with Mossyrock on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.