KENT — For two-and-a-half quarters, the River Ridge Hawks girls basketball team played “like freshmen and sophomores,” said coach Jackie Robinson.
There were 15 turnovers. Nothing was working in the paint. There was hit-and-miss shooting, and most important, the brand of basketball known to the Hawks was non-existent during Friday’s 2A regional against White River.
Then, the Hawks changed gears and did something they’re known for – full-court pressure and trapping labeled “complete chaos” by players and coaches.
It worked, as River Ridge held the 2A SPSL champion Hornets to four second-half field goals and forced an eye-popping 18 turnovers in the final two quarters to claim a 43-35 come-from-behind victory at Kent-Meridian High School.
With the win, the Hawks (19-5) are one of eight teams headed to the state quarterfinals at the Yakima SunDome starting Feb. 28 while White River’s season ends at 21-5.
White River was the more aggressive team for 16 minutes, taking a 25-17 lead into halftime. A 10-0 run the final 4 minutes
of the second quarter gave the Hornets their first double-digit lead at 25-14. A sagging man defense by White River left little success inside for the Hawks, who at one point had more turnovers than points.
Question marks surrounded the Hornets’ Kennedy Hobert (fractured wrist) and Sutton Mills (concussion) entering the game, but coach Chris Gibson said before the game that both were cleared to play. Mills had sat out Monday’s West Central District III title game against Sumner and Hobert saw limited playing time.
Despite White River’s 31-21 lead inside 4 minutes of the third quarter, River Ridge wasn’t done.
“The group just believed,” Robinson said. “They believed the whole time.”
That’s when the Hawks went to work.
In the final 12 minutes, they had nine steals, pressuring the Hornets from the inbounds at every possession. They outscored White River 22-4 during that stretch, and with 3:58 to go in the game, freshman MaKenna Schultz’s top-of-the-key 3 gave the Hawks their first lead since early in the first quarter, at 34-33. They never trailed again.
“I think that turned it all around,” said Brewster, who had a game-high 17 points and four steals. “Once she hit that, everything changed.”
Schultz had all nine of her points in the second half. Savannah McGill had eight of her 10 points in the second half and also pulled down 13 rebounds.
The Hornets had 17 possessions in the fourth quarter and made just one field goal. All four of their points in the fourth came from Hobert (one field goal and two free throws), who finished with 15 points. Amanda Lance and Crystal Narolski had 10 points apiece as just three Hornets scored. After shooting 10-for-31 in the first half, White River made 4 of 20 shots after the break.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473