Nathan Hawthorne said he was nervous.
There was no evidence of that on the basketball court Tuesday night.
Hawthorne, a sophomore, stepped into a starting role and scored 15 points, helping Columbia River roll to a 69-51 victory over Mountain View in a key Class 3A Greater St. Helens League boys basketball victory.
The Chieftains (11-4, 6-0 GSHL) now have a two-game lead over second-place Mountain View (11-5, 4-2) with four games left in the chase for the league championship.
Isaiah Smith scored 20 points, Torey Jones had 15, and Devin Bolds got all involved with eight assists through three quarters for the Chieftains.
But it was Hawthorne who had his first big game as a varsity athlete. He was filling in for Rian Bassett, who has been sick the past few days and missed the game.
"I just wanted to do my best and show up for the team, in order to get a win for the team," Hawthorne said. "I tried not to be nervous."
When he learned he was starting, those nerves were getting to him.
"I was really nervous, actually, especially going against Mountain View," Hawthorne said. "It was a bit daunting at first. Once I got in the flow of the game, I was able to relax and settle in."
Hawthorne made 6 of 9 shots -- including 3 of 5 from 3-point range -- for his 15 points. He also had four assists.
"We know Nate is going to be one of the best point guards I've ever had," Columbia River coach David Long said. "As a coaching staff, we have a lot of confidence he can direct the floor. He's also a good shooter, which he showed tonight."
Long also said his team is getting more difficult to defend. Coming into the season, Smith, Bassett, and Bolds were the guys the rest of the league had to worry about, in terms of defending the Chieftains. Jones, a junior, has shown offensive skills -- he was 7 of 9 from the floor Tuesday -- and now Hawthorne.
"We've added a couple new weapons the last couple of weeks," Long said. "It's really fun to watch the underclassmen develop."
Tuesday's game was close for the first few minutes before Columbia River ended the first quarter on a 9-2 run to take a 19-12 lead. Mountain View never got closer than five points in the second quarter and fell behind by 10 at the break. The Chieftains pushed the advantage to as many as 19 points in the third quarter and had their biggest lead in the fourth quarter at 22.
Bolds had a solid all-around game with nine points, and team-highs with eight assists, three steals, and six rebounds.
"My shot wasn't going down in the first half, so I was looking to get my teammates to score," Bolds said. "We knew we had to make up on offense without having our second-leading scorer. We looked to penetrate and shoot a good field goal percentage."
Columbia River made 28 of 45 from the floor for 62 percent, including 6 of 14 from 3-point range. Mountain View was 20 of 53 (38 percent) and 4 for 21 from long range.
"They played really well and shot the ball well, and we didn't shoot it very well," Mountain View coach Nate DuChesne said. "We didn't do the little things against a good team. When that happens, you get a score like that."
Taylor Drey led Mountain View with 16 points. Shane McCauley added 11.
"We knew Mountain View was the team to beat," Hawthorne said. "If we beat team, we know we can beat every other team in the league."
While Columbia River appears on its way to the league title, Mountain View will be trying to lock down the No. 2 seed.
"We've got four important games in front of us," DuChesne said. "We beat (those four teams in the first round of league play), so we're going to have targets on our backs."
COLUMBIA RIVER 69, MOUNTAIN VIEW 51
COLUMBIA RIVER -- Devin Bolds 9, Bryan Wyche 6, Terelle Bolton 0, Nathan Hawthorne 15, Lance Voorhees 2, Torey Jones 15, Chandler Holt 0, Clark Bryant 0, Justin Gwinn 0, Dallin Scheidel 2, Isaiah Smith 20. Totals 28-45 (6-14) 7-8 69.
MOUNTAIN VIEW -- Shane McCauley 11, Luke DuChesne 8, Taylor Drey 16, Akash Sanghera 7, Alex Torson 0, Nolan Biggs 2, Dauntae Williams 1, Patrick Woodson 6, Marcus White 0. Totals 20-53 (4-21) 7-9 51.
Col. River 19 13 18 19--69
Mtn. View 12 10 11 18--51