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Tuesday’s 2A Boys Basketball: Janssan, Ajoge Help Tigers Shoot Past Wolves

EVCO: Janssan, Ajoge Combine for 38 Points as Centralia Improves to 3-0 in League Play

By Aaron VanTuyl


Two issues plagued Centralia in the nonleague portion of its 2017-18 boys basketball season: the 3-point shots weren’t falling, and the Tigers had trouble closing out close games.

If Tuesday night’s 64-56 Evergreen 2A Conference win over Black Hills is any indicator, they’ve sanded down those rough spots.

Centralia shot a respectable 40 percent from beyond the arc, with Ben Janssan and Michael Ajoge combining to go 5 of 8 on their way to a combined 38 points.

But have they turned the corner in finishing off wins?

“Well, clearly,” joked coach Kyle Donahue after the Tigers improved to 3-0 in league play. “We just won.”

Janssan scored 20 points with five assists, and Ajoge came off the bench and went 4 for 4 from the field in the second quarter. 

Centralia’s Michael Ajoge drives to the hoop against Black Hills.

“He did a really good job. He’s so athletic, and he just finds a way to get the ball in the basket,” Donahue said. “Him and Malakai (Emmons) are kind of that spark plug off the bench. They kind of come in and give us a different energy.”

The Tigers needed that boost, after going 2 for 10 from the field and trailing 10-8 after a quarter. That changed after the initial eight minutes; Janssan hit all three of his 3-pointers in the second quarter, and Centralia poured in 24 points to lead 32-23 at the break.

“We had some momentum going, and we went on a run. Michael came in and gave us some big minutes, and so did Malakai,” Janssan, the Tigers’ Australian exchange student, said. “Our shots started falling as well, and when they’re falling and we’re getting stops … It’s a game of runs, and that’s how we got a lead.”

Tyler Ashmore added 10 points and eight rebounds for Centralia, and the Tigers went 12 of 14 from the foul line in the second half to hold off the Wolves, who went 8 of 15 from the field in the fourth quarter.

“We’re not very smart at the end and kind of made some dumb choices,” Donahue said, “but when we did get to the free-throw line, we hit there in the fourth quarter, and that really put the game away for us.”

Janssan was 9 of 10 from the foul line, and was coming off a 17-point, 10-assist performance in a win over Tumwater. Donahue said he’d encouraged his point guard to try to get into the paint more often.

“I really challenged him to attack the basket more. I said, ‘There’s not many guys that are going to stay in front of you with how long you are and how you finish around the hoop,” Donahue said. “I challenged him to get to the free-throw line, and tonight he got there 10 times.”

Janssan said he’s been adjusting throughout the season.

“I think I’m starting to find my groove in the offense and stuff,” he said. “I’ve had two good games here, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season as well.”

The next step for Centralia (7-6 overall) is just across town. The Tigers play the second half of a girls-boys doubleheader on Friday at W.F. West (10-2). The Bearcats, for comparison’s sake, beat Black Hills 61-52 back on Jan. 3.

“I really feel like, top to bottom, there’s a lot of parity in the league, and I think whatever team is taking care of the ball and playing solid defense can get the win on any night,” Donahue said. “Chehalis is a good team. They’ve got some length to them and they’ll put a little pressure on us defensively, and we’ve just got to be able to handle that pressure and take care of the boards.”

Notes: Black Hills (8-5, 1-2 league) shot 39 percent (21 of 54) from the field. Garrett Glenn led the Wolves with 14 points, and Kai Walker added 10.


Rochester Falls to Tumwater

TUMWATER — Bryce Lollar recorded a double-double for Rochester, but it wasn’t enough as Tumwater won 58-50 over the Warriors in an Evergreen 2A Conference boys basketball game here on Tuesday.

Lollar scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Stephen Robinson led the Warriors with 14 points and Keegan Goldrick added 13 points.

Tumwater’s CJ Geathers led all scorers with 18 points.

The Thunderbirds led 13-11 after one quarter and pushed the lead to 30-21 at halftime. Rochester scored just 8 points in the third quarter to allow Tumwater to expand the lead to 42-29 going into the fourth quarter. The Warriors scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough.

“We really played hard. If we have that effort every night and don’t win another game, I’ll be happy. That’s the important thing. We’ve got to do a better job of valuing every possession. We can’t give up possessions and come up empty,” Rochester coach Mark Goldrick said. “We didn’t have a ton of turnovers but the ones we did have cost us. We can’t give up free points. We’re not the kind of team that’s going to be able to recover from those.”

Rochester (5-8, 0-3) hosts Aberdeen on Thursday in an EvCo matchup.


W.F. West Holds Off Aberdeen

ABERDEEN — W.F. West went on the road and was able to hang on for a 59-54 win against Aberdeen in an Evergreen 2A Conference boys basketball game here on Tuesday.

Bailey Cooper and Tyler Speck each had 13 points and Cooper added 9 rebounds. Jordan Thomas had a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds and added 7 assists.

W.F. West (10-2, 3-0) hosts Centralia in a rivalry matchup on Friday as part of a girls-boys doubleheader.


At Centralia


Black Hills 10 13 11 22 —56

Centralia 8 24 11 21 —64

Black Hills (56) — Carter 6, J. Crumley 8, Loveless, Bauer 7, Glenn 14, Wright 5, Ainsworth 2, Walker 10, Z. Crumley 4

FG: 21 of 54 —.386 FT: 9 of 18 —.500 Reb. 20

Centralia (64) — Wasson 9, Ajoge 18, Emmons 3, Janssan 20, Baird, Ashmore 10, Grimm 4

FG: 18 of 42 —.429 FT: 22 of 31 —.709 Reb. 27 (Ashmore 8)


At Tumwater


Rochester 11 10 8 21 —58

Tumwater 13 17 12 14 —50

Rochester (50) — Robinson 14, Goldrick 13, Lollar 11, Erickson 9, Riley 3

FG: 18 of 51 —.352 FT: 7 of 11 —.636 Reb: 32 (Lollar 10)

Tumwater (58) — Geathers 18, Gaither 9, Rivera 8, Jones 7, Williams 5, Koelsch 5, Fields 3, Murphy 2

FG: N/A FT: 7 of 8 —.875 Reb: N/A

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