La Center overcame a two-point third-quarter deficit last Thursday to deny Columbia High’s bid to end its 17-game Trico Division losing streak.
The host Wildcats outscored the Bruins by nine points in the final period to win the SWW 1A League contest, 49-42.
“During the fourth quarter, we couldn’t convert our free throws and that killed us,” Bruins Coach Scott Kasenga said.
Columbia finished the game with a 6-for-15 mark from the foul line, which was where La Center decided the game after CHS had to revert to fouling to get the ball back.
On the night, La Center sank 10-of-16 free throws and made 18-of-48 field-goal attempts. Columbia was 17 for 42 from the floor with 15 2-point baskets and two 3-pointers.
Carlos Mendoza led the Bruins with 19 points, Kent Shelley scored 11 and Jared McDonald and Taylor Champion each had six.
Scoring honors in the game went to La Center’s Tanner Roggenkamp. He drew a lot of attention from CHS’s defense yet still tossed in 21 points. Duke Kelly added 10 for the Wildcats, who owned a 14-10 lead after the first quarter.
But in the second the Bruins asserted themselves at both ends of the court, putting in 13 points while limiting the Wildcats to five.
La Center, however, trimmed White Salmon’s hard-fought-for 23-19 halftime lead to 36-34 at the end of the third quarter, then completed its comeback by winning the fourth quarter 15-6.
Coming Up: Columbia hosts Ilwaco next Tuesday to kick off its second half of Trico Division play.
The Bruins then travel to Kalama next Wednesday to make up a Trico Division game originally scheduled to be played Jan. 8.
Columbia also will make up a Trico game at home against Castle Rock on Feb. 2. That will be the third game of a four-game home stand.