LACEY — The phrases “Yelm boys basketball” and “transition game” rarely used to be uttered in the same sentence.
The Tornados historically preferred a slower offensive approach.
Those days appear to be over.
“We’re always running,” senior Elijah Fuller said. “That’s what we do around here now.”
Yelm’s new philosophy was on full display at the North Thurston Holiday Tournament as Fuller scored 33 points, and Christopher Burian added 29 to power the Tornados to a convincing 83-62 win over River Ridge on Friday.
“Yelm basketball has been a doormat for far too many years,” said first-year Yelm coach Jordan Barnes. “We’re looking to change that.”
If the Tornados keep putting up 51-point halves, a feat they accomplished in the second half against the Hawks, Barnes’ goal should easily be obtainable.
Yelm (5-1) turned a two-point halftime deficit into a rout primarily because of the offensive prowess of the senior duo of
Fuller and Burian.
Both scored a dozen in the first half, a shade of things to come.
Fuller exploded for 14 points in the opening 6 minutes of the third quarter, sparking a game-deciding 14-3 run by Yelm, which turned a tight contest into a double-digit advantage.
“Elijah’s just a player that wants to do whatever he can to help us win,” Barnes said. “When he flips the switch, he can go. He doesn’t mind when we ask him to score.”
Fuller seemed to do that at will in the third quarter, using equal parts athletic ability and grit during his scoring flurry.
“We just want to wear teams out this year,” Fuller said. “That’s the mindset.”
If the third quarter belonged to Fuller, the fourth quarter was Burian’s moment to shine as he drained a pair of 3-pointers during an 11-point outburst.
River Ridge (4-4) held a 34-32 lead at halftime, overcoming a rash of early turnovers to take a brief advantage.
Jason Kananin scored a team-high 21 for the Hawks, and Kobe Key chipped in 13 points.
The North Thurston Holiday Tournament will conclude today with Yelm playing Tumwater at 5:15 p.m., and River Ridge facing North Thurston at 7 p.m.
North Thurston 55, Tumwater 44: Steven Stone scored 20 points, and the Rams applied the defensive clamps in the fourth quarter to knock off the Thunderbirds.
Tumwater took a 41-40 lead early in the fourth but was held scoreless for 7 minutes as North Thurston went on a 15-0 run.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Stone and Uati Pati gave the Rams a 51-41 lead with 21/2 minutes to play.
Wes Reynolds added 14 points, and David Marrero scored nine for North Thurston. David Cooper led Tumwater with 13 points.
LES SCHWAB INVITATIONAL
Jesuit (Ore.) 55, Timberline 41: Donaven Dorsey paced the Blazers with 16 points, but it wasn’t enough as the Crusaders from Portland picked up the opening-round victory.
Jack Nadelhoffer had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Jesuit (5-2).
Timberline (2-5) shot just 28.6 percent from the field (14 of 49) and was outrebounded 43-28. The Blazers also received seven points each from Tyler Gartner and Jarryn Bush.
The 16-team tournament is being held at Liberty High School in Hillsboro, Ore., and features several of the country’s top collegiate prospects.