LACEY - It's too early in the basketball season for state rankings to mean a lot, but the River Ridge boys basketball team looked at its nonleague matchup against Class 4A Federal Way at the South Sound Classic as an opportunity to improve against a program that has been among the state's elite.
So when the Class 2A Hawks walked away with a convincing 67-51 win over the Eagles at Saint Martin’s University, they had an extra spring in their step knowing they can play with anyone – regardless of classification.
“This was a big win for us,” said guard Brad Wallace, who had 19 points and four 3-pointers. “We came to play under the lights. ... we have good confidence in each other.”
The task at hand gets bigger today, when the Hawks (4-1) face Lakes in the boys championship game at 8 p.m.
Issac Lucas had a game-high 20 points and 18 rebounds to lead River Ridge in what was his best high school game, Hawks coach Jeremy Landram said.
River Ridge started slowly against Federal Way, but the Hawks’ offense turned up the heat in the second half.
During a seven-minute stretch in the first half, the Hawks took a five-point deficit (14-9) and turned into a 12-point advantage at 30-18 with under two minutes remaining in the half. River Ridge held Federal Way to three field goals in the second quarter – the first didn’t come until Jerry Duckworth’s jumper with 2:56 left, a scoreless stretch of more than five minutes for the Eagles. The Hawks took a 30-23 lead into halftime.
River Ridge stretched its lead to as many as 13 at 50-37 at the end of the third quarter, creating fastbreak points off steals. Federal Way used a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 50-43 to start the fourth quarter, but River Ridge used a combination of outside shooting from Wallace and Charlie Conner, as well as the inside presence of Lucas, to pull back to a double-digit lead.
Lakes defeated Prairie, 63-51, and features 6-foot-9 center Zach Banner, who made life hard for the Falcons in the paint on Tuesday.
“Things aren’t going to be easy (today) and we hope to keep it going instead of fading away,” Landram said.