TUMWATER – Nothing much comes free in a rival game, but Black Hills’ prowess at the free-throw line stood out Friday night in the Wolves’ 71-58 victory over in-district foe Tumwater in the Thunderbirds’ gym.
Black Hills (9-3, 3-3 Evergreen Conference) attempted 39 free throws, nearly twice as many as Tumwater, and knocked in 25 of them. Many of the Tumwater fouls came on second and third shots by the Wolves, who had a 44-25 rebounding advantage.
“It’s something we work on,” Black Hills coach Tanya Greenfield said of her team’s persistence on the offensive glass. ”If we can get more than one shot at the hoop, our percentage will go up.”
It also meant foul trouble for coach Dave Weber’s T-Birds.
“That’s really what made the difference,” Weber said of the disparity in fouls and rebounds.
Black Hills, which trailed for most of the first quarter, had six players score at least six points.
The Thunderbirds jumped out to a 5-0 lead on a basket down low by freshman Mackenzie Bergquist and a 3-pointer by Ashley Christoffer.
The Tumwater lead was 14-8 after a basket by 6-foot-1 Layce Groening and two free throws by Haley Carlson – the only points for the senior point guard in minutes limited by fouls.
“There were times in the game it could have swung either way, and the five on the floor did a gut-check,” Greenfield said. “I usually let them ride that out. I try and get them to rely on themselves, not me.”
The Wolves responded, getting a lift from six quick points off the bench from sophomore Lauren Furu, and scored the last 10 points of the first quarter to lead 18-14.
Black Hills, which was getting to most of the rebounds and loose balls, built the lead gradually through the second quarter. Freshman Caitlin Grimm scored four points in a 16-5 Black Hills run, capped by a trey from Sydney Sauls, as the Wolves led 40-29 at halftime.
Tumwater stayed within single digits for most of the third quarter, but consecutive baskets by Sydney Sauls and sister Taylor Sauls, sandwiched around a Tumwater 3-pointer by Christoffer, put the margin at 54-44 after three quarters.
Black Hills led by as many as 15 points twice in the fourth quarter.
Hope Mortensen, a 6-0 senior post, led the balanced Wolves with 12 points. Furu and Sarah McGee added 11 points apiece, and Shayla Smothers added 8.
The ubiquitous Christoffer, a 5-2 junior, picked up the floor-leader duties for Tumwater with Carlson sidelined for much of the night and led all scorers with 19 points. Junior Michaela Weller was solid at both ends and knocked in 10 points.
Weber said none of his current players started last year, and they are growing as they gain experience.
“It’s a good group,” he said. “They work together, and they’re getting better.”
Black Hills hosts Aberdeen Tuesday and visits Centralia Jan. 18. Tumwater (3-11, 1-5) visits Capital Tuesday and hosts W.F. West on Jan. 17.
Tumwater 66, Black Hills 57: The T-Birds, who led the whole game, withstood a fourth-quarter surge by the Wolves.
Black Hills, which trailed 53-43 after three quarters, closed to 55-53 after a jump hook by Jacob Burgess and a 3-point basket by T.J. Neal.
But Tumwater (3-6, 2-2 EvCo) outscored the Wolves 11-4 down the stretch, with Jaimie Bryant scoring on a power move in the lane, David Cooper (16 points) adding a basket after a good move, and Jayden Croft (13 points) contributing a tip-in and four straight free throws.
Burgess led all scorers with 24 points for Black Hills (3-5, 1-2).