LACEY -- Winning at the 2A Southwest District IV tournament has become an expectation for the River Ridge Hawks.
And so has winning district titles.
Led by Brad Wallaces all-around performance of 24 points, 13 rebounds and four steals, the Hawks claimed their fifth consecutive boys basketball district title Friday night at Saint Martins Universitys Marcus Pavilion with a 50-47 victory over Mark Morris.
Perhaps it was only fitting for Wallace to be the first player to climb the latter postgame and to cut a string off the net, something hes done three previous district title games.
It feels good every time, Wallace said.
As champions of District IV, the Hawks will be the No. 1 seed into next Saturdays regional at Tumwater High School where theyll face the No. 6 seed from District 3 at 6 p.m. As runners-up, the Monarchs will be the No. 2 seed, and will face the third seed from District ½ at 4 p.m. Saturday in their regional game, also at Tumwater.
The Monarchs had a chance to send the game into overtime with 3.3 seconds left with the possessions but Tanner Brills top-of-the-key 3-pointer with two River Ridge defenders in his face was short just before the buzzer sounded.
River Ridge held the lead for most of the game, but Mark Morris kept it close. The Hawks held a slim 36-33 lead going into the fourth quarter, but thats when the Monarchs, champions of the 2A Greater St. Helens League, took their first lead since early in the first quarter. Tanner Brills bucket in the lane gave Mark Morris a 40-39 advantage with 5:22 remaining. Within two minutes, however, thanks to a free throw by Jonathon Roberts, the Hawks lead was 46-41 inside 4 minutes to go.
As hes done all season, Wallace put on a show for the estimated 1,400 fans in attendance at Marcus Pavilion with his speed and acrobatic play-making. He was 7 of 16 shooting, and also hit 8 of 13 free throws and one of the big plays of the game came from Wallace after he got his own rebound on a missed second free throw, beat the defenders to the ball, and turned what wouldve been a 43-39 lead into a 45-39 lead with a putback. Even Mark Morris coach Bill Bakamus, when addressing the crowd accepting his Monarchs second-place trophy, acknowledging Wallace and his play in a friendly manner.
Bradley Bakamas said, I hope we never have to play you again.
In addition to Wallaces 24, Kesean Coleman had eight points off the bench and Kobe Key had seven.
The Hawks entered Fridays game winners of 14 straight district tournament games dating back to 2008 when it won its first of now five straight District IV titles.
Thats what we all get excited about and get to play for, Wallace said. We pick it up at districts and go.
Since 2008, theyve been undefeated in district tournament play at 15-0 with various players rolling through the program and even coaches. This is first-year Hawks coach John Barbees first district title.
Its also the 14th consecutive season victory for River Ridge (17-6), dating back to mid-December. This same team was 3-6 overall after Dec. 18 and hasnt lost since.
Theyve come a long way, Barbee said. Its them. They work hard. Its a tight senior group. Theyre best friends, and they play like it.
Mark Morris 49, W.F. West 43: In a battle between the top two-ranked teams in Class 2A, the Monarchs of Longview repeated as district champions at Saint Martins University. The Monarchs (19-4) will be the districts No. 1 seed into the regional round of the state tournament next week at Tumwater High School while the Bearcats will be the districts No. 2 seed, also at Tumwater.
Senior Jamika Parker paced the Bearcats with a game-high 20 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks. Mark Morris held a 35-24 lead late in the third quarter before Parkers 3-pointer cut the lead to single digits at 35-27 going into the fourth quarter. W.F. West got as close as 44-40, including hitting 5 of 6 free throws.