LACEY – Watch out, District IV. The River Ridge Hawks are a new-look team.
Well, not exactly. The players are the same from the regular season, but they are employing a new postseason tactic: pounding the ball inside.
Normally a team known for strong outside shooting, the Hawks worked the paint for more than half their points in a 54-38 victory over Washougal in the opening round of the 2A District IV girls basketball tournament Friday night at River Ridge High School.
The Hawks (16-4) now face top-ranked Mark Morris (19-2), a 78-34 winner over Centralia, in one of two semifinals games Tuesday at either Centralia or W.F. West. The Hawks and Monarchs will tip off at 6 p.m., and the second semifinal between W.F. West and Black Hills goes at 8 p.m. The Wolves topped Hockinson, 56-43, in their first-round game and the Bearcats downed Aberdeen, 58-24.
Against a much smaller Washougal team with only
one regular player taller than 5-foot-9, the Hawks pounded the ball down low, scoring 30 of their 54 points in the paint.
Posts Rebecca Stevenson (game-high 16 points) and Savannah McGill (13) did most of the damage, but the guards got their fair share of inside buckets as well by driving to the basket.
River Ridge also managed to hit some clutch outside shots, too, with four 3-pointers – two by Stevenson and two by Rachel Montgomery.
“You have to have the complete package to win,” said Stevenson, who also had six rebounds and four blocked shots. We were working it in. Guards got their turn and posts got their turn.”
River Ridge shot 21 of 50 (42 percent) and raced out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter. At halftime, the advantage ballooned to 30-10 as the Hawks forced 15 first-half turnovers and held the Panthers to only three field goals. River Ridge built its largest lead — 52-27 — when Montgomery hit her second 3-pointer.
River Ridge coach Jackie Robinson said low-post scoring will be crucial if the Hawks are to make a deep run in the playoffs.
“That’s going to be important in the playoffs is who can score the most paint points,” Robinson said. “In the playoffs, you have to value every possession. The 3-point shot is not a high percentage. I think we score a lot in the paint off transition. But in the half court, I think we settle sometimes on 3s.”
Black Hills 56, Hockinson 43: Senior Hope Mortensen poured in 19 points, and Nicole Nurmi had 12 in the Wolves’ opening-round road win over the Hawks in Clark County. Black Hills had a four-point advantage at halftime before an 11-5 third-quarter spurt helped secure the Wolves’ berth in the district semifinals.
1A DISTRICT IV
Woodland 56, Rochester 51: The Warriors (14-8) trailed by as many as 20 points in the second half before cutting the Beavers’ lead to single digits with 3 minutes, 28 seconds left in the game, but Woodland (19-2) hung on to advance to the 1A District IV semifinals. The loss drops the Warriors into the consolation bracket to face 1A SWW Evergreen Divison-rival Elma, a 49-43 loser to Montesano, in a loser-out contest Tuesday. Keeli Demers led Rochester with 28 points.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com theolympian.com/southsoundsports @megwochnick