Hawks girls stay on course at state basketball tournament

2A GIRLS: Defending state champ River Ridge tops Tumwater for fourth time this season, 53-45, earns another trip to state semis

March 4, 2011 

Hawks girls stay on course at state basketball tournament

River Ridge's Jennifer Cole, who led the Hawks with 12 points Thursday, steals the ball from Tumwater's Haley VandenHazel, right. Facing their Evergeen Conference rivals for the fourth time this season, the Hawks improved to 4-0 against the Thunderbirds with a 53-45 victory in the 2A state quarterfinals.

BY TONY OVERMAN — The Olympian

YAKIMA - The adage gets repeated every time it happens.

When two league rivals play one another in the postseason after one team dominated the regular-season series, the same phrase always comes up: It’s tough to beat a team three times in a season.

What about four?

The River Ridge Hawks proved that Round 4 against Evergreen Conference rival Tumwater would end the same as the previous three – with River Ridge on top. This time, the Hawks earned a 53-45 victory over the Thunderbirds in a Class 2A girls state quarterfinal game at the SunDome on Thursday night.

The win vaults River Ridge (24-3) into a semifinal matchup against Burlington-Edison at 7:15 p.m. today. Tumwater (20-5) drops into the consolation bracket and faces East Valley of Yakima at noon.

River Ridge is one win away from playing for its second consecutive state title and fourth in five seasons.

“I’m just tickled to death,” River Ridge coach Tom Kelly said about playing in the semifinals. “I like the matchup.”

The Hawks have had Tumwater’s number all season, sweeping the two EvCo regular-season meetings as well as the Southwest District IV title game, 68-61, two weeks ago. Of Tumwater’s five losses, four have come at the hands of the Hawks.

Jennifer Cole led River Ridge with 12 points, and Jasmine McDonald scored 11 to go along with seven rebounds, six assists and five of her team’s 10 steals.

Kyahri Adams had what Kelly called her “best all-around game in a big-game” setting, scoring nine points and grabbing five rebounds.

Thursday’s game was a physical one for both teams, and it included numerous fouls and foul shots. River Ridge was 14-for-32 from the line, and Tumwater was 18-for-26.

Like it has all season, River Ridge used its pressure defense for steals and fastbreak points and at one stretch, built a 13-point lead at 41-28. The Hawks also finished with a 15-0 advantage in second-chance points.

“They play like champions,” Tumwater coach Dave Littleton said of the Hawks. “I was proud of the way both teams battled. To both teams’ credit, they really brought it.”

Tumwater primarily used a four-guard lineup, with senior Mackenzie Cooper occupying the post. She had a game-high 18 points and 13 rebounds, but River Ridge’s defense held Tumwater’s perimeter shooting in check. Its two best outside shooters, Jordyn Richardson (nine points) and Tayler Weiks (six), were a combined 3 of 21 shooting.

“We didn’t want them to hit those 3s on us,” Kelly said.

Chehalis 47, Lynden 38: The Bearcats (21-6) advanced to the 2A state semifinals after their upset of the Lions and will face Prosser at 9 p.m. today.

Ryan Tahl, who drained three 3-pointers, and Jamika Parker had 12 points apiece. Megan O’Hara added 10 points.

Chehalis held Lynden to 19.5 percent shooting.

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 mwochnick@theolympian.com

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