The Elma High School boys basketball team clinched no worse than second place in the Evergreen 1A League with a 57-41 victory over Rainier on Friday.
Elma (10-6, 8-2) jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the first quarter, but the Mountaineers battled and trailed by seven points.
“It was a very physical game,” coach Marvin Prince said. “They let us play tonight. We were almost too ramped up early and we were forcing the issue too much, not letting things come to us.”
The Eagles settled down on offense in the second half and came away with the win.
Elma has been on a roller coaster over the past month playing some of its best basketball of the season in the beginning of the month and losing three of four games in the middle of the month. The Eagles have found their stride in the last two games with a 52-43 win over East County rival Montesano before Friday’s victory. Prince said the team has come together as a unit on and off the court.
“There are just so many ways that these kids have grown this year and it has been a joy to be around them,” Prince said. “These kids play so hard and tonight was not exception.”
Elma was led by 17 points from senior guard Ryan Collin and 13 points from senior Devon Gillman. Senior Chance Bremer grabbed 15 rebounds and added six points.
With two games left on their regular season schedule, the Eagles have wrapped up at least the No. 2 seed in the district tournament. Prince said he isn’t happy just to be the second best team in the league and the Eagles will be on a mission when they take on first place Hoquiam at Hoquiam Square Garden on Friday.
“We can be a physical team if they let us play,” Prince said. “If we bring that sense of urgency and that competitive drive that we had the sky is the limit for them.”