TUMWATER - A sluggish start gave way to an absolute clinic Tuesday night as the Tumwater girls basketball team rolled through Aberdeen, 61-24, in the Class 2A District IV tournament at Black Hills High School.
On Friday at Saint Martin’s University, Tumwater (18-3) will take on River Ridge – another big winner Tuesday, with a 51-32 drubbing of Chehalis – for the district championship. Tumwater and River Ridge earned regional tournament berths by winning.
Tumwater overcame a sluggish first quarter to blow open the game with an outstanding second period, outscoring Aberdeen 21-3. The difference was defense as the Thunderbirds held the Bobcats scoreless from the field.
“We clamped down on our defense and made some adjustments there,” T-Birds coach Dave Littleton said. “These kids read the ball in the passing lanes pretty well. Our defense created our offense tonight.”
Tumwater’s offense came together behind 16 points from Jordyn Richardson and 15 from Tayler Weiks, and its defense didn’t allow Aberdeen to score a single field goal from the 1:49 mark of the first quarter until less than five minutes remained in the third.
“You’re talking about six seniors against freshmen and sophomores. That’s a big difference,” Bobcats coach Wayne Ross said. “They’ve been here before, and you saw that tonight.”
The T-Birds now take on a Hawks team that has beaten them twice already this season. That’s fine by Richardson, who says she can’t wait to get another shot at the defending Class 2A state champs.
“We want to play River Ridge. We’ve lost to them twice, so we want to beat them,” she said.
The T-Birds will get their chance, but based on River Ridge’s performance Tuesday, beating the Hawks won’t be easy.
River Ridge had trouble most of the night getting its perimeter game going, but after the Hawks settled into their offense, moved the ball inside and relied on their typically stellar defense, they left little doubt about the game’s outcome.
The Hawks (19-3) allowed Chehalis (16-6) just eight points in the first half, when the Bearcats went 3-for-20 from the field.
Once the Hawks began to find posts Jennifer Cole (11 points) and Rebecca Stevenson (seven points), everything started to fall into place.
“We were able to go inside, and I thought we did a good job pushing the ball at every opportunity, whether we had a fastbreak or not,” River Ridge coach Tom Kelly said. “We tried to wear them out a bit and that worked well. But it was our defense that won it for us.”
Cole, Necy Wade and Kelsey Russell led the Hawks with 11 points apiece. Jasmine McDonald added 10 points.
Even though the Hawks have beaten the T-Birds twice this season, Kelly’s team isn’t taking anything for granted.
“They say that third time is a tough deal,” he said.