TUMWATER - The Tumwater Thunderbirds found themselves in a familiar situation Friday night - trailing by double digits.
And River Ridge had its own déj vu moment – heading to Yakima for the Class 2A boys basketball state tournament again.
Trailing by 12 points late in the third quarter, Tumwater rallied, holding Sumner scoreless for the first three minutes of the fourth quarter and pulling out an 80-68 regional loser-out playoff victory to keep its postseason alive.
“We’ve come back on too many teams to give up,” Tumwater coach Curtis Medved said. “That was our third double-digit comeback. This team never gives up.”
River Ridge, playing its signature hands-in-the-face defense, defeated Fife, 50-44, in Friday night’s other game at Tumwater High School in the regional round of the state tournament.
“Our defense was phenomenal,” River Ridge coach Jeremy Landram said. “They just couldn’t get anything going. And we scored enough to win it.”
River Ridge won without scoring a field goal in the fourth quarter as the Hawks went 11-for-16 from the free-throw line.
“We got stagnant,” Landram said. “On offense, we just hope to score enough to win. Defense is our identity.”
River Ridge got just enough offense out of Brad Wallace and Rahmel Moton, who combined for 35 of their team’s 50 points. Wallace finished with a double double, scoring 18 points with 10 rebounds.
Moton, a 6-foot-2 junior guard who transferred from North Thurston, added 17 points.
“This is what we’ve worked so hard for,” Moton said. “But we’ll have to play better at state.”
River Ridge will plays a quarterfinal game at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Yakima against an opponent to be determined.
Tumwater picked up its third must-win in a row. The T-Birds need another against Fife at 3 p.m. today, with the winner advancing to play next week in Yakima.
Against Sumner, Tumwater had too much depth as 10 T-Birds scored.
“We just wore them down,” Medved said. “We were getting good shots early, but they just weren’t falling. They finally started to fall.”
Sumner opened the third quarter with a 14-5 run to take a 51-39 lead on Joey Kendall’s basket with 3 minutes, 31 seconds left in the period.
Tumwater finished the quarter with an 18-3 run, opening a 57-54 lead on Kyle Warner’s 3-pointer that just beat the buzzer.
Tumwater then began the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run, holding the Spartans scoreless for the first three minutes of the period to take a 66-54 advantage.
“We didn’t want this to be our last game,” Warner said. “We knew we could come back. We have before.”
Warner sparked the T-Birds’ comeback with three 3-pointers in the third quarter and finished with 14 points. Guard Daniel Hinkle, one of three junior starters, led the T-Birds with 15 points, and Zach Boede came off the bench to score 13.
Trailing 37-28 with a little less than two minutes left in the first half, Tumwater went on a 6-0 run, cutting the gap to 37-34 on Warner’s buzzer-beating jumper.
Sumner trailed by as many as five early and took its first lead on two free throws by Dan DeVries that gave the Spartans a 21-19 advantage with 5:32 left in the half.
Tumwater went 11-for-35 from the field in the first half, but the T-Birds still trailed by only three points at halftime.
“We weren’t dialed in for the first three quarters,” Warner said. “We’re usually a second-half team. We stuck with it.”
DeVries scored 15 points to lead Sumner (16-10). Tyler Salisbury added 14 points.